Stovetop: Yellow Split Moong Dal Made from Scratch

May 14, 2020 2 Comments

Stovetop: Punjabi Split Moong Dal - Indian As Apple Pie

We eat this form of moong dal more than any other in our Punjabi homes. I know you've seen the roundish green moong, which is the original form of this legume. I call it a legume because even though it looks like a lentil, it's really a bean. Why it's common to hear 'moong bean' but calling this form above a bean would be confusing because it looks flat and roundish like a lentil split in half and without the green outer skin. Whenever you see the word duhli on packaging, it indicates a legume is 'washed' - no skin and usually split. 

The beauty of this form is that it cooks up super fast (40 minutes on the stove and 3 minutes in the instant pot) and because it has no skin it's very easy to digest. Also why it's the dal of choice when someone has a bellyache - our version of chicken noodle soup. We typically make it into a kitchari - cooked with rice. Unfortunately, most mainstream grocers in the U.S. have little understanding of this dal, and instead sell another legume that is actually a true lentil and orange in color - I'm sure you've seen it. You can substitute those in the recipe below (they cook up similarly and use the same amount of water), but the taste will be slightly different - more earthy. I truly prefer this yellow moong. Once you start making it, I think you will as well. It's why I included it among our product offerings. It was important for me to tell our food story and get it right. 

My father-in-law was notorious for eating moong dal every Monday night over basmati rice with a simple onion salad on the side. Yellow moong has and always will have a special place in my heart. Try it for yourself. The recipe below is for the stovetop version from scratch. For a stovetop version made from our Punjabi masala click here. Our jarred curry starter helps you eliminate the chopping - subbed for the turmeric, onion, ginger, and garlic. The process will also be slightly different - why I always like giving you distinct and separate recipes. 

Stovetop: Yellow Split Moong Dal Made from Scratch
Yield: 5 cups

1 cup yellow split moong dal (dried, split, and skinned moong dal), picked over and washed (no need to soak)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1 pinch hing or asafoetida (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ cup yellow or red onion, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced or pureed
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or pureed
½ - 4 fresh Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1-2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne
2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced

1. In a roomy pot, add the dal and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat down, and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Turn the heat off, cover the pot completely, and let the contents sit. The reason I say roomy is because beans, lentils, and peas expand when cooked. One of the most common mistakes is cooking them in a pot that is too small. 

2. In a separate and small frying pan or pot, heat the oil or ghee over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the hing, turmeric, and cumin. Stir and cook for 40 seconds. Heating oil and cooking the spices is a process called tarka. 

3. Add the onion. Stir and cook for 3 minutes until brown. 

4. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. If the mixture looks dry, add a small amount of additional oil or ghee.

5. Add the fresh chiles. Cook for 1 minute. Stir, scraping the bottom.

6. Turn the heat off and transfer this mixture to the pot of dal. To get all the tarka out, pour 1 cup of dal into the pot, scrape, and dump it back into the pot. 

7. Add the garam masala, coriander, red chile, and salt and stir until combined. A whisk helps to evenly distribute the spices. 

8. Bring the dal to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes until everything pulls together.

9. Turn the heat off, add the cilantro, stir, and serve steaming hot over basmati rice or with Indian bread like roti or naan. We always add a small amount of ghee, freshly chopped onion, green chiles, and a dollop of Indian pickle or achaar, for an extra layer of flavor and crunch.

Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to make the recipe above. For more videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel and tune in Live on Facebook Indian As Apple Pie  Monday through Friday at 11 am CST (Chicago time). When you tune in Live, you can post your questions and comments as well. 


2 Responses


June 01, 2022

I was so glad to find your recipe when all others used pressure cookers and instant pots. The first time I made it I held back the chilli and liked it. The second time I put in all the chilli and oh! Fantastic. Moong dal is becoming my favourite. I can digest it and it becomes delicious with spices. What a find!

Valerie Reid
Valerie Reid

February 07, 2022

So nice to have a personal cooking lesson from a authentic cook- love your style of recalling childhood memories and agree with you tremendously !!! II’m on board as a former cook and love of Indian culture so happy I found your product at the local meat market in Kansas city MO-south side. Fairway Also, just moved here 2 years ago from Chicago! Really appreciate you
Respectfully, Valerie Reid

PS I’m sure you have read some of Peter Singers stuff-Animal Liberation- he’s been saying this for years-Bio-Ethics professor from Princeton

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