Vegetarian Indian Yellow Lentil Dhal Recipe

Moong dal (Indian dish with mung beans)
Damir Begovic / Getty Images
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: about 4 servings
Ratings (7)

A healthy vegetarian and vegan Indian food recipe of mung dal. Mung dal, sometimes spelled "moong dal", or Indian-flavored yellow lentils, are a traditional vegetarian Indian recipe. This easy version of mung dhal soup simmers the dal in vegetable broth, turmeric, and cayenne for a spicy and flavorful -  yet simple -  vegetarian Indian lentil dal dish.

I love cooking with moong dal lentils since they're so much quicker to cook than beans - and even regular lentils - when cooking from scratch since they're so tiny, and, as an added benefit, lentils are ridiculously cheap (I usually buy them in the bulk foods section) and are a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Yellow lentil dal isn't quite a full meal on its own, but it can be a light dinner when paired with steamed white rice (or another whole grain, if you prefer). I like to cook up a big batch of this recipe and store the leftovers in individual serving-sized Tupperware containers to take into the office to heat up for lunch, paired with a small green salad instead of rice. 

Worried about fat? Omit the oil and heat the onion and spices in a non-stick pan with a touch of water instead to make this recipe virtually fat-free and reduced in calories too.

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free (check your ingredients to be 100% sure, particularly the vegetable broth and spices).

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What You'll Need

  • 1 cup mung dal
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Dash cayenne pepper (or more, if you like spice!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine or olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Black pepper to taste

How to Make It

In a large soup or stock pan, combine the mung dal or yellow lentils, vegetable broth, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Bring to a slow simmer. Cover partially with a lid and allow to cook for at least 20 minutes, and up to 30-40 minutes if you prefer a smoother dal. You can add a bit more liquid if needed.

In a separate skillet, sautee the onion, cumin seeds and clove in margarine or olive oil for just a few minutes, until onions are soft.

Add the onions and spices to the mung dal or lentils and allow to simmer for a few more minutes, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle with a dash of black pepper and add extra salt to taste, if needed. Serve plain, as soup, or over rice.

Dal tends to thicken up a bit as it cools, so you may want to add a bit more water if you are planning on having leftovers, but there's also a bit of personal preference involved with just how thin or how thick you prefer your dal to be.