Today I decided to prepare this unusual combination of lentil and vegetable which most people may not be familiar with. I remember my mother-in-law used to make it and over the years I have tried to mimic her but I don’t think it is ever as good! As this was something only she prepared and my mother didn’t, we really looked forward to it. Sometimes she would make it and send it over to us. She was very aware of the Ayurvedic properties of food and mung bean is cooling so of course this was a summer dish.
There are many different sorts of lentils and taste surprisingly different with the skin on – so the orange lentil without the skin is nothing like the same lentil with the skin on. Mung bean with the skin in this recipe tastes completely different and bears no similarity with the skinless yellow mung bean – see my recipe for yellow mung dal.
Lentils are loaded with vitamins, minerals and are a good source of protein and all this with no carbohydrates. Lentils are usually cooked with very simple spices; my usual spices are turmeric, garlic, ginger and chillies (optional). What makes dal different to say lentil soup, is the all important tarka (garnish). Tarka is the crowning glory of all lentil dishes and is a must!
The mixture of spices used for tarka are traditionally set in stone in every household. So if you wish to use fried onions on a particular dal which is traditionally garnished with garlic and cumin, then you’re in trouble. But we are here to break the rules and experiment and not always do as our mothers did….. and if you make a judgement based on your culinary intuition, you will rarely go wrong. And if you do, well that’s a lesson learnt! So do give this a go and if you absolutely detest turnips, no worries, bung in a carrot or even marrow or pumpkin (if using marrow or pumpkin add towards the end as mushy marrow or pumpkin are not very palatable). As a matter of fact there is a dal we make using orange lentil and add largish pieces of marrow in the last 20 minutes – I will post this recipe too in due course.
I hope you enjoy this recipe – dal and beans provide us with an excellent range of nutrients and are very versatile once you know how to use them. Please let me know how you get on in the comments box.
1 cup split mung beans with skin
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder (or less)
2 turnips, cut into small pieces
½ cup fresh dill (frozen is fine too)
2-3 dried whole red chillies
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons oil
- Soak mung beans for about an hour
- Rinse the dal and add garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder and salt
- Add 4 cups of water and cook for 40-45 minutes until cooked and dal is soft
- Add turnips and dill and cook for a further 20-25 minutes until turnips are tender
- Heat the oil and add whole chillies
- Give the chillies 30 seconds and add cumin seeds
- Another 30 seconds and add onions and garlic; fry till golden brown
- Pour piping hot garnish on the mung beans and serve with rice