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Simplified International Flavours

mom's recipe # 2 - basic moong dal

An easy, healthy recipe for a basic staple of North Indian meals - yellow lentils flavoured with cumin and turmeric.


  • 1/2 cup yellow moong dal (about 120g)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, sliced or finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, slit in half
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • To temper:
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 dry whole red chili
  • 1 bay leaf
An easy, healthy recipe for a basic staple of North Indian meals - yellow lentils flavoured with cumin and turmeric.


  • 1. Wash dal 3-4 times in water, until water is clear. Allow dal too soak in water for 10-15 minutes.
  • 2. Place dal, turmeric, ginger, green chili and salt with water in a saucepan and bring it to boil on high heat. Lower heat, stir occasionally so dal does not stick to pan, and cook uncovered until the dal is soft -about 25 minutes. If dal is dry while cooking, add ¼ cup water.
  • 3. To temper: Heat ghee or oil on medium heat in a small saucepan. Add cumin, fenugreek seeds, dry chili and bay leaf and fry until cumin starts browning, about 1 minute. Add to dal and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • 4. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice or chapatis.

    Serves: 4, along with rice or Indian bread
    Ingredients: 12
    Prep time: 15 minutes
    Cooking time: 30 minutes

Critical Ingredients

Different dals has different soaking and cooking times, and water requirements. So if you change the dal, be sure to check if it needs any additional water while cooking. Many lentils need to be soaked overnight, but moong cooks quite fast. Fenugreek in the recipe is optional, but cumin gives the necessary punch to the dal. The bay leaf can be left out. Instead you can garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves for more flavour. The green chili is for flavour, but as there is red chili powder and a red chili for heat, this can be left out. If you are vegan, feel free to use an un-flavoured oil instead of ghee.

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Anuja Kohli Mariwala

An engineer, home cook, Pilates instructor, Education Consultant and mother of four.

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