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Moong Dal (Instant Pot and Stovetop)

Moong Dal – This flavorful dish infuses yellow lentils with garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and warm, fragrant spices. We serve ours with basmati rice and chana masala. 

A single serving of Moong Dal with long-grained basmati rice.

Growing up, my husband ate dal chawal (moong dal and basmati rice) almost every day for lunch and sometimes dinner when the temperature rose in Pakistan; he was not a fan! Isn’t it funny how everything changes when we become adults? Moong dal with rice is his most requested meal and reminds him of home.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

For the Tadka:

  • Ghee: Ghee is a staple in traditional Indian and Pakistani cuisine and develops a deep, nutty flavor to set the stage for the dish
  • Boriya Chillies (Gol Lal Mirch): Boriya chilies are very spicy and add a rich flavor to any dish. I leave them whole for subtle heat. 
  • Cumin Seed and Black Mustard Seed: The cumin and black mustard seeds are toasted in ghee to pronounce the flavor.
  • Curry Leaves: Sautéed in oil to draw out the flavor, the aroma of curry leaves alone adds a unique essence to the dal. Curry leaves can be hard to locate in the United States; your best bet is a local Asian or Indian market. If you’re unable to find them, do not substitute them with anything else. No other ingredient comes close to the taste and smell of a curry leaf!
  • Onion: Caramelized onion provide intricate flavor for the dish and serves as a garnish called tarka or baghaar. I use red or yellow onion in this recipe depending on what I have on hand.
  • Green Chilies: Slit lengthwise, Thai green chilies add heat that doesn’t overwhelm the masala.

For the Moong Dal:

  • Ginger: Ginger cooks along with the dal for a boost of flavor.
  • Garlic: I suggest using three cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – go for it.
  • Spices: I use turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder, and our homemade garam masala to season the dal.
  • Roma Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes flavor the dal. I use Roma tomatoes because they have less moisture than other varieties and easily cook down. I choose to puree the tomatoes beforehand using a blender or food processor because my family doesn’t have an affinity for large bites of tomato. You can also chop the tomatoes and cook them down naturally if you prefer.
  • Yellow Lentils (Moong Dal): Moong dal or split mung bean are the most common lentils used in India, featured in many recipes and popular dishes.
  • Salt: Salt added flavor.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro garnishes the dal.

HOW TO MAKE MOONG DAL IN THE INSTANT POT

Whole spices toasted in oil and caramelized onion create the base for Instant Pot Moong Dal.

Set an Instant Pot to saute mode and warm ghee. Then, add boriya chili, curry leaves, cumin seed, and mustard seed. Cook until the ingredients sputter.

Next, add the onion and green chilies. Cook until onions brown and caramelize. Reserve half of the onion mixture and set it aside at room temperature.

Spices are added to the leftover onion and cooked until aromatic. This process flavors the moong dal.

Stir ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala into the Instant Pot, give it a quick stir, then deglaze with the pureed tomatoes. Simmer for about 2 minutes.

Add the moong dal to the Instant Pot, along with water, and cook for 20 minutes.

Pour the rinsed moong dal, salt, and water into the Instant Pot. Stir well. Secure the lid, and set it to manual high pressure for 20 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to release naturally for 5 minutes, and then do a quick release.

Moong dal cooked in the Instant Pot and ready to serve.

Stir the dal to check the consistency. If thicker than desired, add ½ cup hot water before serving. Garnish with the reserved onion mixture, cilantro, and extra green chilies. Serve with long-grained basmati rice.

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A single serving of Moong Dal with long-grained basmati rice.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store leftovers in an air-tight container; it will keep for 3-4 days.
  • FREEZE – Allow the dish to cool and prepare several freezer-safe bags or containers. Scoop a small amount of dal into each one, making sure to leave a few inches of space so the dal can expand if needed. Moong Dal will freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  • REHEAT – To serve, warm it on the stovetop and prepare your sides.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are lentils?

Lentils or dal are considered a legume. They come in varieties such as yellow (moong and toor), green (whole moong), red (masoor), brown (whole masoor), and black (urad).

Where can I buy moong dal?

Your local Asian or Indian market should carry it, but you can sometimes find them in a larger grocery store; Amazon has them too. Often they are labeled yellow split gram and split yellow mung bean, so be on the lookout for that.

Is moong dal healthy?

Dal is high in protein and fiber. It’s naturally gluten-free and serves a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. If you’re counting carbs, moong dal is higher on the glycemic index. Otherwise, moong dal is a healthy addition to your meal rotation.

Is moong dal vegetarian? Is it vegan?

As long as you fry the onions in mustard or grapeseed oil instead of ghee, this recipe is vegan and vegetarian-friendly.

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A single serving of Moong Dal with long-grained basmati rice.

Moong Dal (Instant Pot and Stovetop)

Tressa Jamil
Sit down with a piping hot bowl of moong dal; it's soothing, filling, tasty, and ready in just about an hour on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 8
Calories 157 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Tadka:

For the Dal:

Instructions
 

For the Instant Pot:

  • Set an Instant Pot to saute mode in the less setting, and warm ghee. Then, add boriya chili, curry leaves, cumin seed, and mustard seed. Cook until the ingredients sputter.
  • Next, add the onion and green chilies. Cook until onions brown and caramelize. Reserve half of the onion mixture and set it aside at room temperature.
  • Stir ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala into the Instant Pot, give it a quick stir, then deglaze with the pureed tomatoes. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
  • Pour the rinsed moong dal, salt, and water into the Instant Pot. Stir well. Secure the lid, and set it to manual high pressure for 20 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to release naturally for 5 minutes, and then do a quick release.
  • Stir the dal to check the consistency. If thicker than desired, add ½ cup hot water before serving. Then, garnish with the reserved onion mixture, cilantro, and extra green chilies. Serve with basmati rice, and enjoy!

For the Stovetop:

  • Warm ghee in a stock pot over medium heat. Then, add boriya chili, curry leaves, cumin seed, and mustard seed. Cook until the ingredients sputter.
  • Next, add the onion and green chilies. Cook until onions brown and caramelize. Reserve half of the onion mixture and set it aside at room temperature.
  • Stir ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala into the stock pot, give it a quick stir, then deglaze with the pureed tomatoes.
  • Simmer for about 2 minutes. Pour the rinsed moong dal, salt, and water into the pot.
  • Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  • Stir the dal to check the consistency. If thicker than desired, add ½ cup hot water before serving. Then, garnish with the reserved onion mixture, cilantro, and extra green chilies. Serve with basmati rice, and enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. 
 
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Nutrition

Serving: 1 bowlCalories: 157kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 8gFat: 3gSodium: 22mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3g
Keyword moong dal
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Recipe Rating




Shelby

Sunday 18th of September 2022

I have never made lentils before, but I came across this Instant Pot recipe and wanted to try it. Wow! We will be including this in our regular rotation.

Tressa Jamil

Sunday 18th of September 2022

I didn't grow up eating lentils either, but I am so glad I know about them now.