Mung Tamarind Dal

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Mung Tamarind Dal

Contrary to some people's expectations, nothing beats the summer heat like a spicy hot dal from south India — where they ought to know about beating heat, after all. But if the idea of plenty of fresh and dried hot chilies makes you sweat a little, tamarind infuses this refreshingly light and fragrant dal with a sour and sweet tang that pushes the heat to almost a pleasant undertone. Wonderful for lunch or a small dinner with a plate of hot rice to spoon a little of the colorful dal liquid over top.

The instruction for a 1-inch piece of tamarind is based on the cake form of the dried pulp sold in every Indian and Asian grocery here in North America. Likewise the brown mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafetida called for in this recipe are always easily found at Indian stores.

Mung Tamarind DalMung Tamarind Dal
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 17, 2008

Simple creamy, fragrant and spicy dal curry with sweet green mung beans and the sour and sweet tang of tamarind

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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  • 1 cup dried whole mung beans
  • 1-inch piece of tamarind pulp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 dried whole red chilies
  • 6 curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 4 red cayenne peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Rinse the mung beans and soak for 6 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are soft and broken up. Set aside.

  • Meanwhile soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of the tamarind pulp. Discard the pulp and set aside the liquid.

  • Heat the oil of ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds, dried red chilies, curry leaves and asafetida. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to splutter, usually a few seconds, quickly add the tamarind liquid and stir in the red cayenne peppers and turmeric. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the raw smell of the tamarind fades — about 15 minutes.

  • Pour in the undrained mung beans and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes while the flavors mingle. Stir in the salt and taste for seasoning.

  • Serve hot garnished with the finely chopped cilantro in warm bowls alongside plates of hot fresh cooked white rice.

Makes 4 main servings


Usha said...

Your dhal looks yummy,I occasionally use a couple of tomatoes to impart some tang and skip the tamarind !

Ivy said...

I also thought that hot spices are for the winter but there is still a lot for me to learn about Indian cuisine and your posts are so informative. Thanks Lisa.

Suganya said...

You have many South Indian recipes in your blog, Lisa. And they are authentic too. I appreciate your interest!

FewMinute Wonders said...

Nice looking dal. I like your blog. Inspires me to try new things and ingredients and keep cooking. Thanks for sharing all this info.

Mansi said...

this is one of my hubby's favorite high-protein foods! I can feed it to him anyday and he'd be happy:) it looks great Lisa! I'd love to have you send this for the healthy cooking event on my blog!

Anonymous said...

Hot and spicy on a hot day sounds perfect to me! (And that weight-loss aspect of beans also sounds pretty appealing!). I've never had mung beans, but have heard so much about their healthy properties that I must try them.

Neen said...

Scary but true: I just finished unpacking from our cross-country move... and I have all the ingredients to make this dish. Does that say something about my cooking habits or about my inability to throw anything out while packing? The dish looks great, and I've been looking for an easy use for that tamarind.

Allen said...

I've never cooked with mung beans but pass them in the store all the time. Every time I see them, I think to myself that I need to find a recipe to try but I somehow forget by the time I get home. This dal is a beautiful green and looks so good -- I think this might just be the recipe to try!

test it comm said...

This sounds healthy and good. I have been looking for some tamarind recipes lately.

basil said...

Another fine dish!

Thanks Lisa, you keep me cooking. This one goes nicely with my adaptation (had to make some substitutions)of your "Basmati Rice with Fenugreek".

Nice on a cool fall evening.

Mirsi said...

Can I use Tamarind paste instead of pulp and if yes how much?

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Mirsi; Yes, you could use tamarind paste instead. I would say about a teaspoon which you would add with the water.

Michelle Rosenaur said...

Should the chilies and curry leaves be kept whole?

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Michelle. Crush the chilies and curry leaves up a bit. Hope you enjoy the dish.