This hearty and wholesome Indian-inspired lentil curry features protein-packed moong dal, a medley of fiery spices paired with smooth and creamy mung beans. Perfect for vegetarians and vegans, this spicy moong dal is on the longer side of cooking time, but it is well worth the wait. Thanks to its generous serving size, it is suitable for meal prep. This moong dal recipe produces several healthy and hearty lunches for the week, or two family-sized dinners. Serve it with rice, naan, chapati, or boiled white rice for a satisfying meal.
What is Moong Dal?
Moong dal, also known as mung dal or mung bean lentils, is a legume widely used in Indian cuisine. It is made from hulled and split mung beans, which are small, green legumes.
Moong dal is a rich source of plant-based protein and a staple in many vegetarian and vegan dishes. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and cooks relatively quickly, making it a versatile ingredient in various Indian recipes, including soups, stews, curries, and dals (lentil dishes).
The Moong lentil is one of the easiest lentils to digest compared to other lentils. As a result, they are often included in low glycemic diets and detox diets in Ayurveda.
Why You'll Love Spicy Moong Daal
This Indian inspired Curry will satisfy all your cozy cravings. Spicy Moong Dal has fiery spices and bold flavors paired with smooth and creamy moong beans. The recipe itself is on the longer side cooking time wise but it is well worth the wait. And since it is on the larger side serving wise, it is perfect for meal prep. This spicy moong dal recipe produces several healthy and hearty lunches ready for the week or two family sized dinners.
Is Spicy Moong Dal Healthy?
Moong Dal split lentils are one of the healthiest pulses. They pack a large plant-based protein punch, plus they are lower in fat and carbs than many other beans or lentils. They may help lower cholesterol levels and help keep blood sugars stable due to being lower on the glycemic index.
What You'll Need to Make Spicy Moong Dal Recipe
Let's explore the key ingredients that make this Spicy Moong Dal recipe finger-licking delicious.
Moong Dal – Moong dal, or petite yellow lentils, takes center stage in this Indian-inspired lentil curry recipe. These skinned and split mung beans are delicious and easy to digest, making them a staple in Indian cuisine. If moong dal is unavailable, any dry split lentil will work in this Spicy Moon Dal Recipe.
Aromatic Spices – A combination of spices, including cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, ground turmeric, crushed red pepper, cayenne, garam masala, and smoked paprika, infuses the spicy moong dal with a rich, flavorful depth. The tempered seeds and chilies give it a deep heat rather than a spicy mouth burn. This is the kind of warmth that heats you from the inside out. Although it is not traditional, I like to add smoked paprika to my curries to give it a little smoky flavor. All of these ingredients blend deliciously in this Spicy Moong Dal.
Vegetables – Sweet potatoes and carrots add sweetness and earthiness to the spicy moong dal, while onions, garlic, ginger, and fresh tomatoes contribute to the aromatic base. Add sweet potatoes and carrots to the dal when cooking to balance the spice with sweeter flavors.
Flavor Enhancers – Olive oil, salt, and black pepper bring balance and depth to the dish, enhancing the overall flavor.
Cilantro – Fresh cilantro is the finishing touch, adding color and refreshing herbaceous flavor.
How to make Spicy Moong Dal
A delicious batch of moong Dal is easier to prepare than you might think and good enough to enjoy for a week. Here's a step-by-step guide to making this flavorful Indian dish:
Boil Moong Dal and Vegetables
In a large pot, add the moong dal along with enough water to cover it, plus an extra 3 inches. Add bay leaves, sweet potato, and carrots. Bring the pot to a boil and let it simmer for 45 minutes to cook the dal and vegetables to perfection.
Sauté the Aromatics
Heat olive oil in a separate skillet. Sauté minced garlic, chopped onions, and ginger until golden and fragrant.
Temper the Spices
Push the sautéed mixture to one side of the skillet and temper cumin seeds and black mustard seeds until they sputter and release their fragrant aroma.
Add Tomatoes and Spices
Add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and cook for about 3 minutes until the tomatoes release their juices. Stir in ground turmeric, crushed red pepper, dried red chiles, and cayenne for extra heat if desired.
Combine the Ingredients
Check the lentils in the pot. They should be soft and tender within 30 minutes. Once they reach the right consistency, add the cooked mixture from the skillet to the pot.
Season and Simmer
Stir in tomato paste, salt, black pepper, garam masala, and smoked paprika. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, allowing the lentils to absorb the flavors and achieve a smooth texture.
Garnish and Serve
Once the texture is smooth and the ingredients are well incorporated, your spicy moong dal is ready to be served. Garnish your moong dal with a generous sprinkling of chopped cilantro and a dash of black pepper. Enjoy it on its own with spoonfuls, or pair it with rice.
Optional Spiced Roasted Cauliflower (Side Dish):
Toss a bag of frozen cauliflower with 1 teaspoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of curry powder, ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a couple of pinches of salt.
Spread the cauliflower evenly on a sheet pan. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, flipping it halfway through cooking. For a delightful char, cook the cauliflower for an additional 5 minutes on the broil.
Serve your Moong Dal alongside spiced roasted cauliflower, boiled white rice, sliced cucumbers, vegan yogurt, and lemon wedges for a wholesome and satisfying vegan meal.
Recipe Notes and Variations
If you prefer a milder dish, omit the dry red chiles, cayenne, and crushed red peppers.
To make the recipe even more straightforward, you can use 3 tablespoons of curry powder to substitute for individual dry spices like turmeric, garam masala, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and smoked paprika.
Not a fan of sweet potatoes? Regular potatoes work just as well in this dal, offering a different flavor profile.
If moong dal isn't available, don't worry. You can use any dry split lentil of your choice to create a delicious Indian-inspired curry.
In a pinch? Soak the moong lentils for 30 minutes before cooking to reduce cooking time.
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SPICY MOONG DAL
- 2 pounds dry moong dal cleaned
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sweet potato peeled and chopped in cubes
- 1 carrot peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 tbsp ginger root peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper
- 2 dry red chiles
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- In a large pot, add moong dal with water to cover, plus an extra 3 inches, bay leaves, sweet potato, and carrot, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes total.
- In a separate skillet, Sauté in oil garlic, onion, and ginger until golden and fragrant, then push to the side and temper cumin seeds and black mustard seeds until sputtering and fragrant.
- Add fresh tomatoes, sprinkle salt and pepper, and cook for 3 mins until tomatoes release juices.
- Add turmeric plus crushed red pepper, red chiles, and cayenne for heat (optional)
- Check the lentils. They cook fast, like within 30 mins, they should be pretty soft. When they’re soft, add the cooked mixture to the pot, plus tomato paste, salt, and black pepper.
- Add garam masala and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer to really infuse those lentils with flavor. When the texture is smooth, it's ready to eat.
- Eat it alone or with rice, and be sure to douse it in cilantro and black pepper.