Serves 8 to 10
(Suggestion: freeze half)
by Kate Heyhoe
Because making a highly seasoned dal can be time-consuming (especially when making other Indian dishes at the same time), I like to make one big batch and freeze half. I add all the ingredients to the whole recipe, as described below and freeze a quart of it. But to refresh the flavors after defrosting and reheating, I mix a half-batch of Mixture 3 to stir in just before serving, and I also add extra fresh lime or lemon juice to perk up the flavors.
You can also finish the dish after Step 2, adding Mixture 2 and omitting Mixture 3. It will be milder in flavor but tastes perfectly fine; doing so shaves off some time and eliminates another pan to wash.
Mixture 3 includes mustard oil, available in Asian and Indian markets, but you can use canola oil and a hefty dose of horseradish if you can't find it. As for ajwain seeds, if you can't find them omit them or substitute a 50-50 mix of thyme and celery seeds.
As with all dried legumes, be sure to sort through the mung beans thoroughly to remove any rocks or debris.
This recipe is adapted from one by author Bharti Kirchner. It makes a soupy sort of dal, but if you let it sit for 30 minutes or so before adding the 3rd mixture, the cooked mung beans will expand and help thicken the broth. I find that the soupy dals are less filling than the dry dals. In fact, I prefer them when serving a full meal of entrée, raita, rice and bread. They also make a very satisfying light meal with naan or other bread, and a cucumber salad.
For an ideal companion to this dal, serve it with Basmati Rice with Two Cumins.
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
2 tablespoons mustard oil
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced serrano or
jalapeño chile (with or without seeds)
1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1. Toast the yellow mung beans in a hot, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until light brown, about 8 minutes. Rinse and drain.
2. In a large, heavy saucepan, bring water to boil. Add the mung beans, turmeric and whole chile. Simmer on low, uncovered, until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Stir the beans occasionally to keep them from sticking to the pot. When the beans are tender enough to be broken easily between your thumb and finger, stir in the salt, sugar, cumin and coriander. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes for the flavors to blend, or turn off the flame now if reheating later.
At this point the mixture can be set aside and reheated before use. Or, for a mild taste, you can serve the dal as is, skipping the remaining step.
3. Make sure the dal is fairly warm. Just before serving, prepare Mixture 3: Heat the mustard oil on medium-low heat until hot. Add the bay leaves, ginger, and minced chile. Stir and cook until the ginger begins to brown. Stir in the ajwain seeds and garam masala and cook for a few seconds; do not let the ajwain seeds burn. Stir the mixture into the pot of mung beans. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the lime or lemon juice and serve hot in small bowls or cups, with lemon or lime wedges. (Remove bay leaves before serving.)
Kate's Global Kitchen for March, 2000:
This page created March 2000
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