Most Californians know of this tiny bean — moong, or mung — in the form of sprouts in their ‘Californian’ sandwiches that they ask to have left out. Or the translucent tails thrown on top of their pad thai. But there is much more to the moong bean, so much more!
In India moong dal in its dehusked, split form is the ultimate comfort food. Creamy and inviting, it is also extremely simple to make. Often yellow moong dal with rice is a baby’s first grown up meal. It goes equally well with rice or roti, but needs a slightly wetter preparation for rice. This recipe is about the moong dal that goes with roti. It makes enough for a dinner side for two, and is easily multiplied.
Garlicky yellow moong dal
- Half cup dehusked and split yellow moong dal
- 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 serrano or other hot green chilies, minced
- Curry leaves if you have them, about 6
- half a teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons oil
- salt to taste
Rinse the dal and put it in a pot with the turmeric. Add one and half cups of water and bring it to a boil.
The thing to note while boiling any dal is that as it comes to a boil, the stuff will foam up very suddenly and squirt all over your burner. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to run to the kitchen to the sound of yellow liquid sizzling all over my burner, and had to tamp down the foam by stirring it. So either leave the lid off while you bring it to a boil, so you can watch, or leave it partially uncovered. Once the the foam has spent itself, it is fine to mostly cover the pot with a lid, and turn it down to a simmer.
This dal will take about 45 minutes to cook. Towards the end of cooking time you can cover it with a lid fully. You can test a grain by squishing it between your finger and thumb. Add salt, turn it off or leave at a very low simmer.
Meanwhile prepare the garlic and chili for the seasoning. Heat oil in a small thick-bottomed pan. When the oil shimmers, put in the garlic, chili and curry leaves.
Cook at medium heat till the garlic starts to shrivel and the chili and curry leaves look blistered. Turn off, pour the contents of the pan into the dal, and stir nicely. As you stir, the grains will break up further and become quite creamy.
This dal, if eaten with chapatis and a simple fried vegetable is an unexpected slice of heaven. To garnish, I usually sprinkle dry mango powder or red chili powder on individual portions.