Super spicy and vegan moong dal tadka or Indian dal recipe. This economical and flavorsome yellow moong dal curry is just as delicious as the best restaurant version
Dal, Dahl, Dhal or Daal? Moong dal, mung dal, mung dhal or moong dhal?
There is no general agreement about the right way of spelling dal… Dahl? Or dhal? Or daal? Moong or mung?
The best explanation for these different ways of spelling I found is that “Hindi is a phonetic language, meaning it’s spoken the way it’s written and when you translate it to English, that could be left to a tiny bit of interpretation.” (Indian as Apple Pie)
Dal, for instance, is the Indian term for dried, split pulses, like lentils, peas, or beans. But not only. It is also the term used when speaking about a dish made with lentils.
There are countless ways of cooking a good dal tadka recipe, this recipe using yellow moong dal lentils is just one of them. (Amazon affiliate link)
You can make it using regular chickpeas, split chickpeas (chana dal), brown chickpeas (Kala chana), black-eyed peas, whole mung beans, yellow moong lentils (moong dal), split pigeon pea (toor dal), black lentils (urad dal), red lentils (masoor dal) and kidney beans (rajma). Most of the time when cooking a dal recipe, I make masoor dal using red lentils.
What is tadka?
Tadka is the Hindi word meaning tempering. Tempering is used not only in Indian cuisine but also in the cuisines of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
Herbs and whole spices are fried in oil, thus releasing their essential oils and changing or enhancing their taste. Both these roasted spices and the oil are then poured into the dish. Or the whole tempering process takes place at the beginning, roasting the spices in oil before adding the remaining ingredients.
For this recipe, I do the tempering at the end of the cooking process. I cook the yellow split lentils first, mash them lightly, and add the spices and the oil.
How to make moong dal?
- Cook the yellow lentils with turmeric according to the packet’s instructions, about 30 minutes, but check the package. The lentils should be really soft so that you can mash them lightly.
- Make the tadka or tempering by roasting the spices in oil. Make sure to stand by and stir continuously for about ½ minute.
- Add the chopped onions and cook for about 4 minutes until they are softer.
- Add the lime leaves, chili, garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and sugar and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes are softer.
- Mix the yellow lentils and the tadka together.
- Adjust the taste with salt and lemon juice.
How to serve moong dal tadka?
- Most of the time I serve these spicy lentils over rice with plain yogurt or raita on the side. If I don’t feel like having rice, I might bake naan bread.
- But I often serve as part of a larger Indian curry meal.
- I cook Indian food for guests very often. There are many reasons for that. First of all, Indian food is amazing! Then, curries are so suitable to prepare in advance and just reheat when the guests are there. That reduces stress significantly.
- And most importantly, most of the people I know are not familiar with Indian food and I just like to surprise them, to be the one to introduce them to such amazing flavors. I have never failed until now.
Indian menu including dal:
Usually, I would cook chicken balti, vegetable curry, this recipe or red lentil dal, raita, some Indian style chopped salad, rice or naan bread. Followed by dessert, which is shrikhand most of the time.
You can serve moong dal with all of these curries.
Moong Dal Tadka Recipe – Yellow Dal
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 cup moong dal split yellow moong lentils
- 850 ml/ 28.7 fl.oz/ 3 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 onion about 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ about ¾ cup chopped
- 3 lime leaves See note
- ½ – 1 teaspoon chili flakes to taste
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 to matoes about 150 g/ 5.3 oz
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice more to taste
- fine sea salt
- Place the moong lentils in a saucepan. Add the water and the turmeric. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or according to the packet’s instructions. The lentils should be soft. Mash lightly.
- Finely chop the onions, garlic and tomatoes. Keep them separated.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin and the brown mustard seeds. Stir for about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes.
- Add the lime leaves, chili flakes, chopped garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the sugar and stir for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes are slightly softened.
- Add this mixture to the cooked lentils and mix well. Add sea salt to taste. Add the lemon juice, stir again and only add more if you feel it is necessary, to taste.
- Serve the moong dal tadka with rice/ naan bread and yogurt/raita or as suggested above.
- You can use curry leaves instead.