Dal or lentils are an important part of every Indian household. Densely packed with proteins, carbohydrates, fibre and lots of vitamins, and minerals; they are also essential to a vegetarian diet. Every Indian kitchen pantry is full of lentils in all colours — red lentils, yellow lentils, green lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, and so many more.
It is not a surprise that we have so many varieties of lentils and so many varieties within each kind of lentil. For example, moong dal, one of the most common lentil across the country, can be cooked as whole green moong dal, or as split which is nothing but the whole green moong dal split into two, or skinned as yellow moong dal.
Even though they come from the same plant, each of them has a unique taste, nutrition profile, and cooking process. Soaking the lentils before cooking is an age old tradition in Indian kitchens. Whole green moong dal needs to be soaked for at least six to eight hours for it to cook properly, while yellow moong dal only needs about 30 minutes of soaking. Split moong dal is somewhere in between. But ever wondered why soaking is so important?
Soaking lentils reduces their cooking time and saves energy. But, the most important function of soaking is to make the lentils easier to digest. The skin of lentils contain a lot of nutrition, which is why it is healthier to eat whole lentils but they also contain anti-nutrients called phytates that make it difficult for the body to completely absorb their minerals. Soaking whole lentils helps reduce these anti-nutrients as they are water soluble.
It is amazing how we cook dal in so many different ways. From simple curries, to elaborate puddings, the humble dal has got it all. This split green moong dal or moong dal chilka is delicious and nourishing. Pair it with fluffy brown rice for a healthy, wholesome meal.
Split Green Moong Dal
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 15-20 mins | Serves: 4
1 cup — Split green moong dal (moong dal chilka)
2tbsp — Ghee (use oil for vegan preparation)
1 pinch — Hing
1tsp — Cumin seeds
2 — Red chillies (dried)
½ inch — Ginger (chopped)
2 cloves — Garlic (minced)
1 — Green chilli (chopped)
1 — Onion (chopped)
1 — Tomato (chopped)
1tsp — Coriander powder
½ tsp — Turmeric powder
Salt — To taste
1 — Lime
Dried mint — To garnish
* Wash the dal under running water. Soak for 1-2 hours in warm water.
* Pressure cook the dal with 3 cups water and some salt and turmeric for 3-4 whistles. Remove from heat but open the cooker only after all the steam has escaped.
* Heat ghee in a kadhai. Once the ghee is hot, add hing, cumin seeds, dried red chillies, ginger, garlic, and green chilli. Sauté for a minute. This gives a nice aroma to the ghee.
* Next, add the chopped onions and cook for 4-5 minutes till the onions become soft.
* Add tomatoes and all the spices. Mix well, add ½ cup water and cook covered for another 5 minutes till the masala is cooked.
* Once the steam has escaped, open the pressure cooker, and add the cooked dal with the water to the masala.
* Mix well and cook for another couple of minutes.
* Before serving, add lime juice and garnish with dried mint or fresh coriander.