Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday: Mung Dal and Pickles

Mung dal on brown rice with carrot-mustard seed salad and local pickles.

We've blogged about mung dal before - this is one of our standby dal preparations, taken from Madhur Jaffrey's Invitation to Indian Cooking. Here, we served the dal with rice, pickles, and a salad of grated carrots and mustard seeds. (Mustard seeds must be toasted in oil until they pop or else they have almost no flavor.) The wax bean pickles were recently obtained from Norwich Meadow Farms, and the cucumber pickles were purchased from Rick's Picks at the Union Square greenmarket. Both are highly recommended.

Since this dal recipe is so simple and versatile, we feel compelled to share it with you, faithful readers:

Moong Dal

1.5 c moong dal (hulled and split)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 slices peeled fresh ginger, 1 inch square and 1/8 inch thick
1 tsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp vegetable oil or usli ghee
pinch ground asafetida
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
lemon or lime wedges

Clean and wash the dal thoroughly. Put the dal in a heavy-bottomed 3- to 4-quart pot, add 5 cups water, and bring to a boil. Remove the froth and scum that collects at the top. Now add the garlic, ginger, parsley, tuermic, and cayenne pepper. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, lower heat, and simmer gently for about 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally at first, and more frequently toward the end to prevent the dal from sticking on the bottom of the pot. When the dal is cooked (it should be thicker than pea soup), add the salt and lemon juice.

In a 4- to 6-inch skillet or small pot, heat the oil or ghee over a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot, add the asafetida and cumin seeds. As soon as the asafetida sizzles and expands and the cumin seeds turn dark (this will take only a few seconds), pour the oil and spices over the dal and cover immediately. Let sit for a minute or so and then stir thoroughly before serving.


1. This recipe works for mung/moong dal, toor/toovar dal, masoor dal, and urad dal. Urad and moon dal are available with or without their hulls; hulled might be preferable, but you can actually use either in this recipe.

2. Serve the dal with rice and lemon or lime wedges. It's best to have something to go with the dal, like a vegetable dish and pickles. (Pickles are traditionally used to add a salty crunch to an otherwise mushy meal.)

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