Dinner @ 226 - Madhur Jaffrey's Everyday Moong Dal

I have a solution for your dinner rut.  You know, those times you look into the empty, crusty crevices of your GE and it all looks a little...blah.  You reach for the broccoli, but realized you had broccoli soup the day before yesterday and return it to the crisper that is jam packed with nothingness.   You feel as though if you make another soup, chunky, creamy, or otherwise, that you might croak with a ladle still clenched in your lifeless hand.
That little guy on the right is my asafetida.  I found it at an international market.
 It's March, after all.  We've had all the soups, stews and crock-pot meals that our frigid little bodies can handle.  We crave the freshness of crisp asparagus and little green peas that pop between your molars.  We want dinners to be less...cooked.  But still, the temperatures hold and there isn't a decent looking spear of asparagus in sight.  In fact, snow is on the forecast for tomorrow.  Snow.  Thanks a lot, March.

This dinner is one that has made it into our weekly rotation.  Yes, I said weekly.  Whenever I feel that cloud of Dinner Nothingness descend over my kitchen, this is what I prepare.  Even though it's not Spring Fare, it will carry you through till the asparagus get smaller and the back deck gets power washed.  And from there, if you're anything like us, you'll make it every week or so after.

Everyday Moong Dal - This recipe comes from one of my favorite books.  I've had a long-existing obsession with Indian food that started at a buffet near the mall in High School.  I will eat it absolutely anytime; usually frightening amounts of it.  Please don't be dissuaded by the Indian origin, you really only need to venture out to find one or two ingredients that you don't already have/or have had before.  I've changed the recipe a bit to be more convenient, according to what I usually have on hand.  If you'd like to make it the way it was written, the original is in parenthesis.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish, I always double it if it's all we're having.  And, it usually is.

1 cup moong dal, washed and drained
1/2 bunch kale, ribs removed and cut into 1 inch strips, optional*
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil (or ghee)
1/8 teaspoon ground asafetida
1 teaspoon ground cumin (1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (1-2 hot red chilies)
1 large shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers

Put the dal in a medium pot and add 3 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off the white froth and add the turmeric.  Stir to mix.  Cover partially, turn heat to a gentle simmer, and cook 40 minutes.  At this point, add the kale to the dal, cover and let the kale wilt for 5 minutes. Add the salt and stir to mix.  Turn off the heat.

Pour the oil in a small frying pan and set over medium high heat.  When hot, put in asafetida, cumin, and cayenne.  As soon as the spice mixture is fragrant (30 seconds) add the shallots.  Stir and cook until the shallots darken.  Pour the shallot mixture over the cooked dal and stir.

Serve with brown rice (or whatever rice you prefer), whole wheat naan, plain yogurt for topping, sliced red onion, lemon wedges, and fresh cilantro.

*If you're looking to make this a complete meal, throw in a bunch of kale as noted.  That's my way of getting out of making a salad.

For other rad dinner ideas, go here.


  1. Amaar India! Is that the inspiration? I loved eating at that place, and whenever I'm in town, my mom and I love to go there. I always have a mango milkshake (with rosewater) and it is just super magical. Anyway, your dish looks amazing too. Indian food is the bomb.

  2. yesssss! that was when i fell in love with Indian Food. and we still get takeout from there for special occasions. this recipe is such a simplified version of typical indian food, but it is wonderful! i hope you try it.