Yellow Mung Dal – Keep Warm this Winter with a Homemade Indian Meal

January 16, 2023

With January freezing us to our bones, TLG Contributor Arti Buxi shares her secret to staying cozy over a bowl of warming spices and nourishing lentils. Whether you’re doing Veganuary or just want to go easy on your body after the excess of the holidays, we are here for you. This simple Indian vegetarian meal (that can easily be made vegan) will warm your soul and be kind to your body.

This recipe of mung dal (yellow lentils) and steamed rice, with a side of beetroot raita is a family favorite.  The rice, and most of the spices as well as ghee are easily available at the local supermarkets – Coop/Migros/Manor/Globus.  For the yellow mung dal, asafoetida, cinnamon sticks, curry leaves and mustard seeds, go to an Indian/South Asian store.  Lausanne has quite a few of these planted across town. These shops are also great to source some nice fresh herbs and South Asian. Here are some of the stores we visit frequently:

  • New Asian Shop – Rue du Simplon 12, 1006 Lausanne
  • Asian Shop, Jehanathan, Avenue de France 2, 1004 Lausanne
  • World Market, Avenue de France 2, 1004 Lausanne
  • K&A Asiatique, Avenue de France 2, 1004 Lausanne
  • Best Foods Supermarché, Route de Chavannes 213, 1007 Lausanne
  • Asian Shop, Avenue de Rapille 12, 1008 Prilly
  • https://dalchini.ch/ – Free delivery for orders above Fr 50
  • https://www.greenbasket.ch/ – Free delivery for orders above Fr 50

What You'll Need

For Dal

  • Half cup yellow mung dal
  • Half teaspoon curcuma (haldi)
  • Salt to taste

For tadka (tempering the dal)

  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter). You can also use avocado oil (though definitely not traditional!) if you want to be vegan
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One medium sized onion, diced fine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped fine
  • Pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • Sweet paprika
  • ¼ th of a teaspoon of dry red chili flakes (optional)

For Jeera Rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee (or unsalted butter, or olive oil
  • Half a tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 to 3 whole cardamom pods
  • Half inch cinnamon stick
  • Salt to taste

For beetroot raita:

  • 1 medium sized beetroot
  • Half teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • Half teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 or 4 curry leaves (optional)
  • Handful roasted peanuts
  • Half cup yogurt (milk or plant based)

What You'll Do

Make the Dal

  1. Rinse 1 cup of dried yellow mung dal, till the water runs less yellow
  2. Soak the dal for 20 minutes – optional. This reduces cooking time
  3. Add 4 cups of water and the dal into a heavy bottom pot
  4. Add the curcuma and salt to taste
  5. Bring to boil, skim off thick foam that may bubble up with a spoon
  6. Put on low heat and simmer, half covered with a lid, for about 30 minutes or till the dal gets mushy. We are not looking for al dente, we want the grains to be mixed and mushy and hugging each other. Keep stirring occasionally, ensuring that the dal does not stick to the bottom of the pan
  7. You can add more water if you want the dal to be soupier. Make sure the water you add is warm, so the overall cooking temperature doesn’t decrease

Temper the Dal

  1. Take 2 tablespoons of ghee (or unsalted butter) and melt in a small pan
  2. Once hot, add the cumin seeds (they should be dancing once put into the hot ghee), chopped onions, a pinch of asafoetida (if using) and stir
  3. After 2 or 3 minutes, when the onions are soft, add in the chopped/minced garlic and the sweet paprika. If you want it spicier, you can add dry red chili flakes here too.
  4. Pour the contents into the pot with the cooked dal and stir

Cook the Rice

  1. Rince 1 cup of long grained basmati rice till water runs clear
  2. Heat a tablespoon of ghee (or unsalted butter) in wide bottomed pan
  3. Add half a tablespoon of cumin seeds, 2 to 3 whole cardamom pods, a small stick of cinnamon
  4. Roast for a minute or two. Add in the rinsed rice, stir with a spatula to ensure all the rice grains are coated with ghee
  5. Add water. The right amount of water depends on the pan you use. Add enough water such that when your your index finger touches rice surface, the water level should reach your first knuckle.  Add a pinch of sale, stir, and cover with a lid.
  6. Bring to boil and lower the heat. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Switch off heat and let it sit for another 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Voila!

Make the Beetroot Raita

  1. Wash and scrub one medium sized beetroot
  2. Grate it on the large holes of a box grater. Transfer to a bowl. Add half a teaspoon of sugar
  3. In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mustard seeds, chopped onions, and the curry leaves, if using, and stir for a couple of minutes till the rawness of onions disappears
  4. Pour this tempered oil onto the grated beetroot and mix well
  5. Roughly chop a handful of roasted peanuts and add to the bowl
  6. Add half a cup of yogurt and mix well. Taste and adjust the salt accordingly

Looking for more cozy food recipes? Check out our recipe for Croûte aux Champignons

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