This simple and comforting Moong Dal is one of the simplest Indian dals made with split petite yellow lentils. This wholesome dal has a tadka (tempering) of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and curry leaves making it flavorful. This dal is vegan, easy to digest and light on your stomach and pairs well with rice, roti or any grain of your choice. You can make this moong dal recipe in 30 minutes using a traditional pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
Of all the dals that I grew up eating at home on a regular basis like chana dal, toor dal; moong dal was probably everyone’s least favorite. Most people consider it bland and in fact we used to eat it when we were sick or needed to eat something light. My brothers would always stay away from it. The only way they ate it was in moong dal khichdi and that too with a very sad face!
However I always liked moong dal, for me it was as good as any other dal. All you need is a good tadka (tempering) to add flavors to your moong dal.
Table of contents
What is Moong Dal
Moong Dal is one of the popular lentils that we eat in India on a daily basis. Moong dal in this recipe refers to dhuli moong dal aka split petite yellow lentils which is the most commonly available variety of moong dal. It’s the same dal which we use to make moong dal dosa, moong dal ladoo and more. This particular variety is easy to digest and light on the stomach. We would often eat it when we wanted something light and healthy for dinner. You can find it at any Indian grocery stores or specialty stores where lentils are sold.
There’s also a version of moong dal which is called sabut moong dal aka whole moong dal. It’s also called green moong dal. And there’s also a skinned moong dal which is known as moong dal chilka. My mom used to make khichdi with it.
Moong dal dhuli (split petite yellow lentils): these are small yellow lentils, if you compare them to toor dal/arhar dal, these lentils are much smaller.
Spices: this dal is mildly spiced with spices like turmeric, red chili powder and some whole spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chilies.
Garlic and curry leaves: these are 2 of my favorite ingredients to flavor my moong dal. They add tons of flavor to the dal. If you are not a garlic fan, you can definitely cut down on the amount of garlic in this recipe.
Why We Love This Moong Dal Recipe
- is light and easy on your stomach.
- is vegan and can be made gluten free by skipping the hing.
- goes well with roti, rice or grain of choice.
- makes a wholesome and comforting dish.
For this moong dal recipe, I used my Instant Pot to boil the dal. You can use your regular pressure cooker or even a stove-top pan. Moong dal cooks rather quickly so it’s one of those dals which would not take too much time to cook on a stove-top.
Step by Step Instructions- How to Make Moong Dal
1- To your Instant Pot or regular stove top pressure cooker, add the following:
- 1 cup moong dal, rinsed
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium chopped tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder and
- 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Stir to combine. If using an Instant pot, press the pressure cook/manual button and cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then do a quick pressure release or you can also let the pressure release naturally. If using a traditional pressure cooker, cook for 2 to 3 whistles on high heat. Let the pressure release naturally.
2- Once the pressure is released, open the lid of the cooker and give the dal a stir. Adjust the consistency of dal at this point to your preference. I added 1/2 cup extra water at this point.
3- To make the tadka, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds. Let the seeds sizzle, wait until the mustard seeds pop.
4- Then add 1/4 teaspoon hing (asafetida).
5- Add the 5 to 6 sliced garlic cloves and 2 dried red chilies and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the garlic become light brown in color.
6- Then add the curry leaves and sauté for a few seconds.
7- Transfer the tadka to the cooked dal and stir.
8- Add in the juice of half lemon, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro and mix. Taste test and adjust the salt as needed. Serve hot.
Serve this moong dal with basmati rice, jeera rice or quinoa. You can also serve it with roti along with a side of aloo palak or aloo gobi.
How to Make Moong Dal On Stove Top
If you don’t have a pressure cooker and want to make this dal on stove top, first soak the dal for 30 minutes. Then drain the water and add the dal to a pot. Add water, salt, turmeric, red chili powder and chopped tomato. Stir and cook for 20 to 25 minutes on medium heat until the dal is soft and cooked.
Then add the tadka as mentioned in the recipe and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
- Moong dal has this reputation of being bland but all you need is a good tadka to amp up the flavors. For this recipe, I have added a tadka of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing, dried red chilies and curry leaves. Here are a few other things that you can add to your tadka- ginger, green chilies, whole spices like cloves, cinnamon, ground spices like coriander powder, garam masala etc.
- You can make a Moong Dal fry with chopped onions and tomato masala along with ginger garlic paste, all the dry spices and fresh cilantro.
- Adding ghee makes it more aromatic so use ghee in place of oil to make it more flavorful. But if you wish to keep this dal vegan, then stick to oil.
- You can make the whole dal in one pot using Instant Pot or stove top pressure cooker. First heat the oil, then add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing, garlic, dried red chilies and curry leaves. Saute until garlic turns light brown. Then add the dal, tomato, turmeric, salt, red chili powder and salt and cook for 4 to 5 minutes at high pressure in your Instant Pot or for 2 whistles at high heat in your traditional pressure cooker. Let the pressure release naturally. Then add the cilantro and lemon juice at the end and serve.
- The consistency of the dal can be adjusted according to preference. If you like a thicker dal, add less water and vice versa.
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This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in 2014.
Moong Dal Tadka
- 1 cup moong dal dhuli 200 grams, also known as split petite yellow lentils
- 3 cups water 24 oz
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil 15 ml, or you can also use ghee
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon hing asafoetida
- 5-6 large garlic cloves sliced
- 1-2 dried red chilies
- 6-7 curry leaves
- half lemon juice of
- chopped cilantro
- Add the rinsed moong dal along with 3 cups water, tomato, turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt to a pressure cooker or Instant Pot and stir to combine.
- Press the high pressure or manual button and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes if using an Instant Pot. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then do a quick pressure release. If using a traditional pressure cooker, cook for 2 to 3 whistles on high heat. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Once the pressure is released, open the lid give the dal a stir. Adjust the consistency of dal at this point to your preference. I added 1/2 cup extra water at this point.
- Make the tadka/tempering by heating 1 tablespoon of oil (or you can use ghee) in a small pan on medium heat. Once hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add hing and stir.
- Add the garlic and dried red chilies and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until garlic become light brown in color. Add the curry leaves and stir.
- Transfer the tadka to the dal and mix well. Finish by adding lemon juice and cilantro. Serve moong dal over rice or grain of choice for a hearty meal.
- To make this recipe gluten free, skip the hing (asafoetida) or use a gluten-free hing.
- You can use ghee or oil to add more flavor and aroma to the dal.
75 thoughts on “Moong Dal Recipe (Moong Dal Tadka)”
How would deleting tomatoes affect the recipe? Personally I enjoy the recipe very much, but a friend of mine cannot eat tomatoes. Thank you!
you can skip, it’s fine. Maybe sauté some onions in the tadka and add that for flavor 🙂
Thank you so much for the recipe. Personally, i think, this is the BEST moong dal recipe. Reminded me instantly of home. I knew mong dal was supposed to be easy on stomach, but, none of the recipes before this one , made dal easy on stomach. After trying this recipe , with no onions, ginger, garam masala , i felt the difference immediately. Not only is this recipe light, but it also stimulates appetite. The nutty aroma from cumin seeds + mustard seeds stimulates my appetite.
glad you enjoy it Maninder! Thanks for trying!
Iv made this multiple times and love the flavor. I do not have a pressure cooker so I’ve made it stove top in a small dutch oven. In your directions for stove top it does not specify to cover and simmer or simmer w/o covering. The last two times I made it it seemed too watery so I had to simmer longer w/o the top on. While the water gets absorbed the dal doesn’t have that firmer texture I like. Should I cut back on the water some? Thanks
definitely cut back on water. Everyone has a preference when it comes to dal consistency, there’s no right or wrong way.