Red Lentil and Moong Dal

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
red lentil dal

There are times when there is nothing more comforting than a simple lentil curry. Spiced with attention, showcasing staples from the pantry, and vibrant tomatoes from my backyard garden, simplicity in this case steals the show. In my opinion, such easy dals, especially suited for busy midweek meals, are sometimes just as good, maybe even better, than more elaborate preparations. The creamy texture of the dal is an ideal base for rich and pungent spices and audacious hot chilies. In fact, this dish is so delightful and flavorful, it deserves a spot on any table with an Indian theme, no matter the occasion or lack thereof.

red lentil mung dal curry

Here I have used red lentils along with some split mung beans for extra earthy flavor and texture. Feel free to just use red lentils if you don't have mung beans on hand, though I did particularly enjoy the earthy component the mung added to the dish. Any Indian savory flat bread would go along well with the meal, but if you are pressed for time, serve with some hot basmati or jasmine rice and a vegetable side dish. I opted for a corn and green pea curry to complement the meal.

This was my evening meal, as I wanted a bit of a vegan cleanse after indulging in more filling meals prior, but do consider making this up for lunch — much better than canned vegetable soups with all of their additive glory in the mix. It all comes together in hardly any time at all and tastes just as good the next day. The recipe can easily be doubled if you are feeding a larger crowd.

Red Lentil and Moong DalRed Lentil and Moong Dal
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 2, 2013

Deceptively quick and simple, this creamy lentil curry simmered in a seasoned tomato gravy is bursting with sweet, earthy and spicy flavors — a terrific solution for midweek meals without a lot of time for planning or cooking

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

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  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/3 cup split mung (moong) dal
  • 2 1/2 cups water + more as needed
Other ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 fresh red or cayenne chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder (optional)
  • pinch or two of asafetida
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • handful of fresh parsley or cilantro, trimmed and finely chopped
  • Thoroughly rinse the red lentils and mung dal in a strainer under warm water. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the dal is soft and just begins to break apart. Add a little more water if the mixture becomes too dry.

  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard and cumin seeds and stir for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Immediately add the ginger and chilies to the pan and stir for another minute. Stir in the coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, amchoor if using, asafetida and salt. Stir for 30 to 60 seconds and then add the tomato to the pan. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for another 10 minutes or so, until the mixture begins to thicken.

  • Pour the tomato sauce into the dal and simmer over medium heat for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add more liquid if you want a soupier dal.

  • Stir in the garam masala near the end of the cooking time along with some of the chopped parsley or cilantro. Remove from heat, cover. and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining chopped herbs, sit down and enjoy.

Makes 4 servings

lentil dal

More lentil delights from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Brown Lentils and Moong Dal in a Cashew-Almond Sauce
Curried Red Lentil Soup
Ethiopian Lentil & Mustard Salad (Azefa)
Lentil Dumplings Simmered in a Sweet Tamarind Sauce

On the top of the reading stack: Power Hungry(TM): The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Scrumptious and healthy! That is one of my favorite dishes.



Unknown said...

Fantastic! I used toor dal instead of moong dal. Very earthy, warm flavor. I would definitely make this again.