Bhaja Moong Daal
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
I have a slight obsession for Dal (Ok huge obsession!!) And this Bengali Bhaja Moong Dal Is my family's favourite. Toasted Moong Dal, slightly simmered in spices and peas makes it extra special.
Normally, in Indian households, moong dal or yellow lentil is not considered gourmet and is mostly opted for when someone is not feeling too well and in the summertime when the sun is scorching hot.
But here a slightly toasting of the dal on the pan gives it a unique flavour. You get a slight crunch in a bowl, goodness which has been gently simmered in spices in an open pan. Every grain is separate and distinct in flavour.
This aromatic Bengali Moong dal made with fresh vegetables is a delight in winters. It can also be had round the year and the addition of the vegetables gives it a lot of body and texture along with added nutrition.
Lentils are an ancient food. They’re well-known for their ability to grow in poor soil with little water, complementing grains to provide complete protein, and nourishing whole civilizations. Early lentil dishes were likely cooked, along with early grains, over open fires to soften them into nutrient-dense porridges.
More than anything, dal is a comfort food at its finest. Served over rice or with rotis and chapatis, it is as nourishing as it is soothing. Quick-cooking dal is made from split lentils (in this recipe we went with moong dal) and can be dressed up with the addition of the tempering spices. Once you learn the technique, experiment with a tadka combination of your own to customize this dish. That’s the beauty of dal — it’s made for personalization.
This dal and roti/rice dinner is delicious on its own, but if I want to add more vegetables to the meal, I often make this with a simple cucumber Raita. This was a cooling staple recipe for summers and a relatively simple meal. It also keeps well in the fridge, so I can make it ahead of time.
Bhaja Moong Dal
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Cuisine: Indian, lunch
1½ cup roasted moong dal (split green gram)
2 chopped onions
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
2 green chillies (or as per taste)
1½ chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of ghee
1 teaspoon jeera (Cumin seeds)
1 pinch of hing (asafoetida)
A stick of cinnamon and a bay leaf
½ teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons of raisins (optional)
¼ cup of peas (fresh/frozen)
Lemon slices to serve
Coriander leaves to garnish
Heat a wok and dry roast the lentils in the pan for 15 minutes till light pink. No oil is needed. Be watchful as the dal tends to burn easily.
Add the roasted dal and cook with 1½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon turmeric in 3 cups of water.
Cook for 30 - 45 minutes on low medium flame in an open pan. Add more water if needed.
In another pan take 2 tablespoons of ghee and add hing (asafoetida), cumin, cardamom, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon. Add onion, ginger, green chillies, tomatoes and cook for a while till the raw smell disappears and the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add the cooked pulses and allow it to simmer for a while.
Add 2 tablespoons of raisins (optional) and the peas after the dal is cooked. Let it bloom and release its sweetness.
Next add coriander leaves and 1 teaspoon of ghee. Add garam masala if desired.
Serve hot with rice or roti and lemon wedges.