Don’t let the name throw you off. For some reason, “mung”, as a word, doesn’t appeal to me, so I never bothered to cooked with mung beans…just because of the name. Silly, huh? But, now that I have tried them, I am a total convert! I also never made dahl, I think because I’ve always been under the impression that there is some secret ancient technique and I’m not privy to it. I’m sure there are many who could show me a thing or two about authentic dahl, but, until then, here is my version…fyi – onions are often avoided in ayurvedic cooking, but, like I said, I am a novice.
I am offering a very simple recipe, but as far as I can tell, there is no end to the number of ways you can make dahl. I wouldn’t worry about whether or not it’s traditional, just make it according to your own taste. You can add vegetables, use a different type of beans (e.g. red lentils, yellow split peas), add coconut milk, fresh herbs, and on and on and on. I generally don’t use butter when I cook, but I definitely make an exception for dahl and use ghee (clarified butter) to saute the spices.
Mung beans are nourishing and easier to digest than larger beans. They contain very few oligosaccharides, which are the sugars that can make beans difficult to digest for some. You can buy them whole or split (the latter do not need to be pre-soaked, though I think it’s helpful to do so for anywhere from 2-12 hours). According to ayurvedic thought, they are balancing to all three doshas.
- 1-2 Tablespoons ghee (or oil)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon, or more, grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup split mung beans (or lentils or yellow split peas)
- 3-4 cups water, more or less depending on the consistency you want
- sea salt, to taste
- recommended options: lemon or lime juice and hot sauce for serving
- Other options/additions: cayenne, fenugreek, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, chilis, fresh cilantro (to finshed soup); you can also saute the spices at the end and add them to the finished soup
Soak and or rinse the beans. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add ghee, swirl around in pan, then add onion and cook until lightly browned. Push the cooked onions to the edges of the pan, add a little more ghee, then cumin, mustard and coriander seeds. Cook, stirring, until they begin to pop. Remove spices and smash in a mortar and pestle or equivilant (or just do this in the pot), then stir back in. Stir in ginger, turmeric, and beans, then add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are very soft, adding more water, if necessary. Or, after you bring to a boil, pour into a slow cooker and cook on low for several hours or overnight. Stir in about 1 teaspoon salt. I like to add a little fresh lemon or lime juice and dash of hot sauce to each serving. Serve with rice on the side. Experiment and enjoy!