November 16, 2022
Yellow split moong dal is one of the most commonly made dals in North Indian homes that you've never tried. Maybe you've seen the whole version, which is round and green and known as either moong or mung. This yellow form is that same dal, but the skin is removed and it is spit, why it is called duhli or washed - as if the skin is washed away. Lentils and beans often come in various forms because each has a unique taste, have different cook times, and use different amounts of water. Always keep in mind any legume (lentil, bean, or pea) that is whole with the skin will likely need to be soaked first and then cooked down longer with more water. Why often we reach for this yellow split moong dal for a quick dinner. Back when I was a television reporter working the early morning shift, I always made this dal for my girls - then babies. They loved the taste and I loved how it cooked up so fast.
I like to showcase this dal in my cooking demos because folks who have never had it before or think they don't like lentils (it's technically a bean), are blown away by how delicious it is. If it's so good, why haven't you had it before?
For one, few Indian restaurants showcase it. It's not as sexy as the black legumes that make dal makhani, or as commonly found in mainstream grocers as the orange split lentils. But, split and skinned yellow moong dal is the backbone of Punjabi home-cooking. In my first book, The Indian Slow Cooker, on page 64, I offer you a recipe for it in the crock pot and tell you how my late father-in-law ate it for dinner every Monday night. I'd argue that the magic is actually in the simplicity of this dal. Everything you add to it - from the spices to the chopped fresh chiles, onion, and cilantro, only elevate it to an unbelievably delicious experience especially when served over simple basmati rice with a dollop of ghee on top and Indian pickle on the side. My mouth is already watering.
When I began selling this dal to retailers a few years back, I got some pushback from buyers and my own Indian community. They told me no way would folks purchase it. I disagreed. Now, my number one seller is this yellow split moong dal. The recipe below shows you how to prepare it using my curry starter, Punjabi masala.
Stovetop: Yellow Split Moong Dal Made with Our Punjabi Masala
Makes 4 1/2 cups
1 cup yellow split moong dal (dried, split, and skinned green dal), picked over and washed (no need to soak)
1/4 cup Indian as Apple Pie Punjabi masala
1/2 - 3 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups water
2 tablespoons each minced onion and cilantro, for garnish
1. In a roomy pot add the dal, Punjabi masala, fresh chiles, garam masala, coriander, cumin, red chile, salt, and water. Stir. If you don't want heat don't add the chiles or the red chile powder. No need to add the cumin or coriander powders either if you don't have them, but they do add more flavor.
2. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes until the dal breaks down into a porridge-like consistency. Stir occasionally.
3. Turn the heat off. Cover the pot completely with the lid, and let it sit for 2 minutes. Garnish with the onion and cilantro and serve with basmati rice, Indian bread like roti or naan, or enjoy as a soup. Imagine a piping hot thermos filled with this on a cold Chicago day!
If you would like the from scratch recipe, click here, head to my slow cooker book as mentioned above, or to my book Indian For Everyone, where I share a version made with spinach on page 140. In the same book on page 143, check out the recipe for this dal dry - a dish that we love stuffed into Indian breads.
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