This recipe for moong dal is the simplest recipe I could design for you, while still keeping it authentic with fresh ginger, turmeric, red chili, lemon, and cilantro.Jump to Recipe
Moong dal is sometimes referred to as yellow dal, split yellow dal, dal tadka, dal fry, or mung dal.
Rest assured, this is that comforting dish you always enjoy when you order it at an Indian restaurant. Now you can learn to make it at home.
Moong dal is known for being highly balancing to mind and body, and the easiest to digest of all the legumes in the world.
Digestibility is an important factor when choosing a legume, because so many people have trouble digesting beans and lentils.
So if you are someone who struggles to digest beans, I encourage you to try this recipe, and see if it helps you, because the health benefits of regular legume consumption are too numerous to be missed.
Moong dal benefits
Moong dal is the hulled and split form of mung beans, which are moss-green colored. A lot of people confuse moong and mung. Now you won’t make that mistake.
Some people regard moong bean as a superfood due to its high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber is what makes moong dal a little gooey. Sometimes it requires more water to thin it out.
In fact, a 1 cup serving of cooked moong dal contains 15 grams of fiber, meeting 60 percent of the recommended daily value of fiber for the average American.
This mucilaginous soluble fiber soothes and heals the digestive tract, and is very supportive for gut health.
According to Dr. Axe, soluble fiber prolongs stomach emptying, which improves absorption of nutrients, provides satiety after eating, and controls hunger.
Due to its incredible healing properties, moong dal is the number one food recommended in any traditional Ayurvedic cleanse.
For more information about the health benefits of moong dal, see: Why Does Ayurveda Prize Moong Dal? Health Benefits
Moong dal nutrition
Compared to other legumes, moong dal is also very high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium, along with a good amount of iron and zinc.
Moong dal protein
A 1 cup serving of cooked moong dal contains 14 grams of protein.
This is slightly lower than other legumes, which tend to be more around 15-17 grams for the same serving size.
Less protein actually adds to the digestibility of moong dal, and what substitutes for the protein is the fiber.
Moong dal vs toor dal
If you cannot find moong dal, you can substitute with toor dal, chana dal (split), yellow lentils, red lentils, or even yellow split peas, but be aware that the cooking time and consistency of the final dish will change.
Due to their slight variations in fiber and other nutrients, cooked beans and lentils have different consistencies when cooked.
Moong dal is quite sticky, and can even be a little hard to manage. (As I mentioned, it needs to be thinned out with extra water.)
To balance out the stickiness factor, you could use half moong and half of another type of dal. I like an equal combination of moong dal and toor dal.
For more information about Indian beans and lentils, see The Ultimate Guide to Indian Dal (Photo Glossary).
Where to buy
If you are going to make this recipe (and I hope you will!), you will need to buy some moong dal.
Moong dal is available at Whole Foods stores, and some conventional grocers.
If you cannot purchase it from your regular store, you will be able to find it online, or at an Indian grocery store near you.
Moong dal Instant Pot
I have included instructions to make this moong dal recipe in three ways: in an Instant Pot, in a stovetop pressure cooker, and in a regular saucepan.
Pressure cooking is always recommended when cooking beans from scratch, but since moong dal is so tiny, it does cook faster, and you can make this in a regular saucepan in about 45 minutes.
How to make
There are three steps to successfully cook moong dal, and each step is easy.
- The first step is to cook the moong dal using one of the three methods until it is very soft and falling apart.
- The second step is to sauté the spices in ghee. You will need a tiny skillet or pot to prepare the spices efficiently. The trouble with trying to do this step in something larger is that you won't have enough fat concentrated in one place to drown the spices in, and the spices need to stay in the fat to cook properly. Be careful when preparing the spices. Use low heat, pay close attention, and stir continuously.
- The third step is to finish and balance the overall flavor of the dish by combining the spices with the cooked moong dal, and adding fresh lemon and cilantro.
Ingredients and flavor
The overall flavor of the dish is mildly spicy from the ginger, turmeric, and red chili, earthy from the moong dal and cumin seeds, and lemony from the fresh lemon.
You also want to make sure that you can taste the salt.
The spices you'll need for this recipe are cumin seeds, fresh ginger, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and cilantro.
Red chili is what they call Indian chili powder, but you could also substitute with cayenne pepper is this is what you have in your pantry to start.
Lemon is essential to get the right taste. The energizing sour taste picks up the otherwise dull and earthy quality of the dal.
Cumin is pretty essential for dal also. The dish will not be the same if you don’t use it.
I am giving you these tips to help you to be successful, which I know you can be.
I want you to enjoy this dish so much that you cook it weekly, and use it to improve your overall health.
Recipe for Simple Moong Dal
For cooking the dal
- ¾ cup moong dal (split yellow)
- 2 cups water, (1 ¾ for the Instant Pot)
- pinch turmeric powder
- pinch Himalayan pink salt
for the spice tempering
to finish the flavors
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
Prepare the dal
- If you have time, soak the moong dal in cold water for 4 hours or more. Rinse moong dal in cold water 4–5 times until the water runs clear. Add to pressure cooker or saucepan along with water, a pinch of turmeric powder, and a pinch of salt.
Choose one of the following cooking methods
- Instant Pot: Reduce the amount of water to 1 ¾ cup. Ensure the steam valve is on “Sealing,” and set the timer to cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes. After that, force release any remaining pressure by carefully opening the steam valve to “Venting.” Open the lid and remove it.
- Stovetop pressure cooker: Use high heat to bring the pressure up to high (when you hear the first whistle), then reduce the heat slightly. Cook under pressure for 6 minutes. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 10 minutes, then open the lid safely.
- Saucepan method: Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes, or until the dal becomes very soft and broken apart. Add more water if necessary so that the dal remains covered.
Make the spice tempering with ghee
- Heat ghee in a small skillet on medium-low heat. Add cumin seeds, and sauté until the cumin seeds turn a few shades darker.
- Add the ginger. Continue to sauté gently, and on low heat, stirring continuously, until the ginger just starts to brown.
- Add the turmeric powder and red chili, and stir for a few seconds to release the aroma. Turn off the heat.
Finish the flavors
- Pour the tempered spices and ghee over the cooked dal, and add salt. Stir well, bring back up to a boil, and simmer for 2-3 minutes to combine the flavors and cook the salt. (If using the Instant Pot, use the Saute function to simmer.)
- Turn off the heat. Add the fresh lemon. Taste, and adjust for salt, red chili, and lemon. Add more salt, red chili, or lemon if you need to balance the flavors. Stir in the cilantro.
- For a complete meal, serve with basmati rice, and a cooked vegetable. You could either spoon the dal on top of the rice, or mix the rice and dal together to create the dish known as “dal rice.” For exceptional taste, add a dab of ghee on top of the dal just before serving.