Mung Dal [Indian Vegetarian recipe]

Dal has two meanings. It a bean or lentil that has had its skin removed and is split in half. It is also a thick savory dish that is made from dal. Incorporating mung dal into one's diet is an inexpensive and easy way to add fiber, protein and vitamins without adding many calories or a lot of time. Their mild flavor and texture make them a perfect addition to any recipe. The ingredients In this recipe is fairly short to showcase the creamy texture and rich flavor of the dal. My husband calls it comfort food because dal was served every day while he was growing up in India. Mung Dal can be served with plain rice and chapati in the true South Indian vegetarian tradition or it can be served as a side dish with other favorite recipes.

STEPS:

1. Pick through the dal and rinse under cold water. Place it in a sauce pan. Bring the dal and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low then cook until tender, about 25-30 minutes. When tender, drain off any remaining water.

2. Using a knife with a wide blade, smash 1/4 cup of the cooked dal. Return it to the rest of the dal. The smashed dal will mix with the spices and add a creaminess  to the dal. (Optional step.)

3. Heat the oil in a pot over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. When they start to pop, add the onion. Let it fry for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onion turns brown, add the garlic, ginger and green chile and reduce the heat to low. Let this fry for 3 minutes then add the powdered spices and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, stirring often so it does not stick to the pan. After 2 minutes add the tomatoes. Mix well. Let this simmer until the tomatoes break down and lose their structure. Add all of the dal, 1 cup of water and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until no water is visible. Check the salt and add more as needed. Garnish with the chopped cilantro.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup mung dal
​1 bay leaf
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, minced
1 Thai chile, minced
1/4 tsp red chile powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
​2 Tbs cilantro, chopped