Moong Dal with a Garlic + Cumin Tarka Recipe

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Fresh India 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every DayThis is an unassuming but gorgeous dal and one of my favourite lentil dishes of all time. A gentle and soothing marriage of soft lentils and earthy cumin and chillies, tempered by butter, it’s old-fashioned home cooking at its best: nourishing, cheap to make and comforting.

  • Yield: 4 Servings as part of a main course


  • 300 g moong dal
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 banana shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 green finger chilies, very thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)
How to Make It
  1. Wash the dal until the water runs clear, then drain, place in a deep saucepan and cover with 1½ litres of water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, put the ghee or butter into a frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add the cumin seeds and shallots. Cook for around 5 minutes, then add the green chillies and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the shallots start to brown, then add the turmeric and garam masala.
  3. Tip into the dal and stir, then add the salt. You might need to add a little extra hot water to make the dal a bit thinner. Check the seasoning, and serve with plain basmati rice or naan bread, together with some pickle and yoghurt.

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