Hira’s Easy Mung Dal

This is a very simple, delicate-flavored dal, good for everyday cooking. It has very little oil. Hira’s recipes are full of flavor (without being very spicy), and light on fat. Mung is considered to be the easiest bean to digest and the dal is even easier than the bean on the stomach. Dals usually require no soaking, cook faster, and are less windy. When babies start eating solids, plain pureed mung dal with rice (a soft mung dal khichdi) is often the first food given. It is also excellent when sick or when the stomach is sensitive.

Sometimes my mother (Hira) used a tablespoon of thinned yogurt instead of lime juice. And that is delicious as well. A couple of  chopped thin-skinned tomatoes can also be boiled with the dal and then the lime juice is left out. My mother was an incredible cook, creative and a perfectionist. Little did I realize how good her cooking was until I left home to study in the UK and ended up eating at many different Indian homes. Each passing year, now with grown children of my own, I still am in awe of her cooking!

Great food can be easy, all fresh, and less than $10 for four, often under $5 as this recipe. A large chunk of the world eats this way–they do not have access to processed fast food or expensive items.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow mung dal or mung dal with skin used in the photo above
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon canola, grapeseed, avocado, peanut oil, or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 minced hot green chili (or any hot pepper of your choice to taste)
  • 1 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice to taste, we like 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Steps

  1. Spread the dal out on a large plate and pick it over for any little stones. Then wash it with cold water in a fine-meshed sieve for a minute.
  2. Put the dal in a heavy bottomed pot and add two cups of cold water. Bring to a simmer. Then cover the pot partially and turn the flame down to medium and let it simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes till the dal is really soft. Dal with skin takes a little longer. Add more water if needed. Mung dal sticks to the bottom and burns easily so make sure the heat is not too high and that the dal simmers gently. Stir it well periodically.
  3. When the dal is cooked, use a stick blender or whisk to mix it. It should become a puree. Add the remaining water as needed, curry leaves, and salt. Stir and bring to simmer again. You may need more water depending on how high the flame was earlier and the size of the pot. It should be the consistency of a marinara sauce. Some like it thinner, some thicker!
  4. Turn the heat off the dal. Heat oil in a small saucepan or a large ladle. Add the cumin seeds and cloves to the hot oil and heat till the cumin turns a darker shade of brown. This only takes a few seconds and be careful not to burn the cumin. Carefully add the ginger, minced hot pepper, and turmeric. I like to add the chopped cilantro to the oil as my son does not like fresh cilantro–it tastes soapy to some people. Cooking it removes that “soapiness”. Stir them all in with the hot oil and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Carefully put the mixture in the hot dal. Squeeze in the juice of the lime. Add the cilantro if using it now. Serve hot with rice, roti, and vegetables.

Serves 6. Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 20-25 minutes.

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