Moong Dhal (Indian – Style Yellow Split Mung Beans)

I found a bag of mung beans at the back of my larder from when I made Korean Nokdu Bindaetteok a while back and realised they were two months away from spoiling so I rattled my brain to what to do with them. Then I remembered that they are also used a lot in Indian cuisine and remembered a dhal I made a long time ago.

Dhal is a dried pulse (lentil, peas, and beans) that has been hulled and split. It comes from the Sanskrit verbal root dhal, meaning “to split”. Dhal is also the word given to the soups and stews made with these pulses common in many South Asian countries such as India.

This recipe involves using Tarka which is an Indian technique whereby spices are tempered in hot ghee or oil and then added to the cooked dhal, similar to the spanish way of cooking lentils.

You can boil the traditional way or you can use a pressure cooker which drastically cuts down on the cooking time. I always used to make it the traditional way but now prefer to use the pressure cooker method as it is much faster (30-40 minutes vs. 15 minutes).


2 cups moong dhal (Yellow Split Mung beans)

4 ½  cups water

½ tsp. turmeric

2 Tbsp. ghee (or mixture or oil and butter)

1 Tbsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 cm piece ginger, diced

3 dried cayenne chillies

1 fresh green chilli, halved

1 large tomato, diced

1 tsp. red chilli powder

2 tsp. kasoori methi

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mace

1 tsp garam masala

½ lemon, juiced

Salt, to taste

N.B. The cup measurement is just a normal (at least for me) drinking glass, not the American measurement system, although feel free to go by that if you wish.


1 Rinse moong dal in cold water a few times and let it soak for 30 minutes or overnight. Drain and set aside.

2  Pour water in a deep pan and add drained moong dal and turmeric. Bring to boil and simmer on a low flame for 30 – 40 minutes or until the dhal is soft. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt.

3 Make the tarka by frying cumin seeds in hot ghee and once they start to pop add cayenne chillies, green chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Add tomato, red chilli powder, cinnamon, mace, garam masala and kasoori methi. If it becomes to dry add a little bit of water. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

4 Pour this tarka over the cooked dal and stir well. Adjust seasonings to your taste.DSC04927_Fotor_Collage5 Add lemon juice and ½ cup of water, mix well and boil for 2 – 3 minutes.DSC04937_Fotor6 Add this point you can serve just like this, which would be the traditional method, or go rogue and blend it to your desired consistency using a hand blender.DSC04927_Fotor_Collage2If I cooked this the traditional way, I find that the moong dhal doesn’t quite breakdown perfectly so I prefer to to use a hand immersion blender to reach my desired consistency. However, if I’ve used a pressure cooker, I never end up using the hand immersion blender as it breaks down to perfection and no blender or masher is needed.DSC04945_Fotor


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