Even though I grew up learning to cook (and eat!) French food, I like to mix things up every now and then. Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines, so I’ve learned how to make a few simple Indian dishes. Moong Dhal is a staple of my limited repertoire of Indian recipes. I originally looked up lots of recipes online and adapted mine based on the balance of spices I prefer. My dhal is probably not as authentic as it could be, but it’s tasty.
2 cups moong dhal (yellow lentils)
1 Tbsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 chili pepper, finely chopped (I like to use fresh thai chilis if I have them. This time, I used dried thai chilis, and only 1, because the little guy was going to be eating it. Normally I would make it spicier)
8-10 whole curry leaves (I get them at the Indian grocery store and keep them in my freezer)
3 large tomatoes, diced
Salt to taste
Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
1. Wash the dhal in a large bowl several times until the wash water is clear. Cover in water and soak for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water. Put the washed and soaked dhal in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover with lid most of the way and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
2. While the dhal is cooking, prep the remaining ingredients. Dice the onion and chop the garlic. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Melt the ghee/vegetable oil. Cook the onions until they begin to be translucent, stirring often. Next add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ground cumin, chili pepper and curry leaves. Then add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Don’t let the garlic burn! The cumin and mustard seeds should start to pop. Remove from heat.
3. Stir the turmeric into the cooked lentils. Next add the onion and spices from the previous step into the lentils. Stir well.
4. Stir the tomatoes in and cook for a few minutes. Add salt to taste.
5. Serve with naan bread, chapati or rice, and garnish with cilantro.