Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday: Mystery Dal

Mooth beans on brown rice.

Mooth beans are small brown beans, smaller than even mung beans and rather elongated in shape. For our Boston-area readers, we note that mooth beans are the main legume in the dal at Punjabi Dhaba. (For others, Punjabi Dhaba was our favorite Indian restaurant in the Boston area.)

The identity of this legume was actually the source of much debate back when we were living in Somerville. At that point we already had most of the basic dals - chana, mung, urad, toor, masoor - on our shelf. But none of them resembled the legume in the Punjabi Dhaba dal. We argued for months or more, pretty much any time that we went to the Dhaba (which was often), but we couldn't agree. They were far too small to be toor dal, but the wrong color and shape for mung beans.

One day, as we were shopping at our local Indian grocery store, we noted a new legume on the shelf - mooth beans. We realized immediately that mooth must be the mystery legume in the Dhaba dal. There ended the bitter debate.

Mooth beans can reliably be found in Indian groceries in New York, and are probably easier to acquire in Boston and elsewhere these days. We prepared them according to our standard dal recipe, but we did pre-soak them for several hours to speed the cooking a bit.

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