This Bengali moong dal recipe, made with yellow lentils and mild spices, has a delicate flavour and makes a satisfying main dish. You can enjoy it on its own or pair it with your favorite rice or roti.
On certain days, I feel like eating sattvic food i.e., food that is simple, easy to digest, and gives me a good feeling of being full. I reserve this Bengali moong dal recipe, this zucchini kootu and sauteed bottle gourd for those days. These are dishes that mean comfort to me.
I learned to make this flavorful dal dish from a friend’s mom in Kolkata. She told me that this bhaja moong-er daal is one of the gems of Bengali cuisine. Bhaja means roasted. I have fond memories of eating this dish as part of a wholesome meal with some plain rice, bitter gourd and aloo bhaja, sour Bengali chutney, and extra crispy fritters. They would have some fish head stew as well.
This post contains helpful notes, tips, and tricks to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link above or the "Jump to" links below to get to the section you want.
Allergens free labels
This mung dal recipe is allium-free - has no onion and garlic - and is also free of:
Make it tomato free: Just skip the tomato and add a dash of lime juice instead.
Make it vegan: Use any neutral oil instead of ghee.
Why this recipe works
- Simple and easy: Moong lentils are the easiest of all lentils to digest. This recipe uses simple spices to make a dish that is flavourful. You can prepare this dish on the stovetop in a few steps. You can also save time by making it in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot - see the notes section below for details.
- Source of plant based power: This dish can be a great source of protein and flavor on your vegetarian days.
- Free of allergens: This recipe has no onion, no garlic and is gluten free.
- Hearty food: The warming spices, such as bay leaves and dry red chilli, make this a perfect dish to enjoy in the winter months.
- Family friendly dish: This is an everyday delicacy of Indian cuisine that kids and grown-ups will love!
See the recipe card for quantities.
- Moong dal: These are split yellow lentils, also known as moog dal in Bengali.
- Whole spices: Cumin seeds, dried red chilli, and bay leaf. Bay leaves add a distinctive and unique flavor to this dish.
- Ghee: This is traditionally made with ghee. You can substitute it with any good quality neutral oil.
- Ginger: I use fresh ginger and crush it using a mortar and pestle. You can grate or mince is, if that works better for you. Ginger paste will work as well.
- Green chillies: These are more for their flavor than their heat.
- To finish off: These garnishes are totally optional. Add all or any of these: ghee, grated ginger, chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), bhuna jeera.
Have a question regarding the ingredients? Feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will try my best to answer it for you.
This warming sumptuous Bengali moong dal recipe comes together on the stove top.
Also see the video at the end of the recipe card below.
Step 1: Prepare the lentils and other ingredients.
Add the lentils to the pan on medium flame. Roast them till they are golden brown.
Stir and keep an eye on them to ensure that they are evenly colored.
Tip the roasted dal to a bowl. Wash, drain and keep aside.
Chop the chili peppers into 2-3 pieces, each. Dice the tomatoes. Crush, or mince the ginger.
Measure the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2: Make the moong dal.
Put the pan back on medium-high heat and add the dry roasted moong daal and 3 and ½ cups of water.
Add the turmeric and chopped green chilies.
Stir and boil dal until soft but the lentils still hold their shape.
Partially cover the pan with a lid to speed up the cooking. The water will boil over if you fully cover the pan with the lid.
Hint: You can tell that the lentils are cooked when they split on their sides. They need just a few more minutes to become soft and creamy.
Step 3: Temper the spices.
While the lentils are cooking, place a skillet on medium heat. Add the ghee and whole spices. Fry till the cumin become darker in color and the bay leaves are aromatic.
Add the crushed ginger, chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes soften, but don’t turn mushy.
Add these spices to the lentils as they cook. Mix well. Cook, on low heat, for 2-3 minutes more, letting the flavors blend and the lentils finish cooking.
Check for salt and add more if required. If the dal is too thick, add ½ cup more water.
Finish off with garnishes, if using.
Serve as a main with rice or roti. See the section below for more suggestions.
Notes, substitutes and variations
Can you skip roasting the dal? Roasted moong dal gives this dish the best flavor. That’s why this dish is called bhaja moong dal. But you can make this recipe without roasting the lentils if you want.
Making it in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot: Follow the same steps as above and cook for 6-7 minutes (2 “whistles”) on high pressure. Release the pressure manually. Remove the lid and add the tempered spices. Then put the lid back on for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. The lentils cooked this way will be softer and more mushy than the stovetop method.
Onion and garlic: This recipe is traditionally made without onion and garlic. If you prefer, you can add some finely chopped onion and garlic when you temper the spices. Fry them for a couple of minutes after adding the whole spices. Then add the ginger and tomatoes.
Consistency: This sumptuous Bengali style moong dal has a thick consistency that is perfect for pouring over rice or scooped up with some bread. If you want to have it on its own, as a soup, you can thin it by adding 1 cup of water.
See this summery version yellow lentil soup on my website!
- Swap the ghee with neutral oil to make this a vegan recipe.
- Skip the tomatoes and add a dash of lime juice instead.
- More flavor - add 1 teaspoon of panch phoron (five spice mix), 1 tbsp. mustard oil, and ½ teaspoon garam masala powder.
- Spicier: If you like a spicy kick, add ½ teaspoon red chili powder at the time when you add the turmeric to the lentils.
- No moong lentils? You can use red lentils (masoor dal).
- Add vegetables: To make it more filling and nutritious, you can add some vegetables. Cauliflower florets, green peas, and diced potatoes are typically added to it. Bengalis call this version “shobji diye bhaja muger dal”.
I mentioned some of these tips earlier in the post. Here is a summary for you:
Roasting the lentils: This is a crucial step to get the flavour for this Bengali dal recipe. Roast them on medium heat and stir them constantly to get an even colour. The lentils should be golden brown.
Texture: The lentils should not be mushy, unlike in this dal palak. Roasting the lentils prevents this to a large extent.
Ghee: This is important for the unique flavor of this dish. Try not to skip this ingredient if you can.
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
What is the best way to eat moong dal?
Here are some serving suggestions:
If you, like me, love having this the way a Bengali household will serve it, then have it with some plain hot rice, green beans and aloo posto (poppy seeds), baingan bhaja (pan-roasted aubergine), a wedge of lime and a green chilli.
You can also enjoy this dal with some flat bread. I love having it with buckwheat naan - a great option for a grain-free meal.
Storage: This dal can keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Cool it completely and store it in an airtight, fridge-safe container.
Dal fry, a popular Indian dish, is typically made with toor dal (split pigeon peas).
Some versions of dal fry are made with a combination of toor and moong dal or masoor dal (red lentil). The lentils are cooked soft and flavored with onions, garlic, tomatoes, spices, and herbs.
Unlike other lentils such as toor, urad and chana dal that require to be soaked for sometime, moong dal does not require to be soaked before cooking.
Moong dal is one of the easiest lentils on the tummy. These lentils are easy to cook and easy to digest.
If you have made this Bengali moong dal recipe, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! You can also engage with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram xx Padma
Simple Bengali Moong Dal Recipe (No Onion Garlic)
- 1 Saucepan with lid or Dutch Oven
- 1 mixing spoon
- 1 large bowl
- 1 skillet for tempering spices
For the dal
- ½ cup moong dal (yellow lentils)
- 3 and ½ cups water, + ½ cup more
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 green chili peppers
For the tempering
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- 1 dried red chili
- 1 tablespoon crushed or minced ginger
- ¾ teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
- 1 medium sized (~80g) tomato, ½ cup when chopped
Garnishes (optional): all or any of these
- ½ teaspoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon bhuna jeera
- 1 or 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro (coriander)
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
Prepare the lentils and other ingredients
- Add the lentils to the pan on medium heat. Roast them till they are golden brown. Stir and keep an eye on them to ensure that they are evenly colored.
- Tip the roasted lentils to a bowl. Wash , drain and keep aside.
- Chop the chili peppers into 2-3 pieces, each. Dice the tomatoes.
- Measure the rest of the ingredients.
Make the moong dal
- Place the pan back on medium-high heat, add the lentils and water. Add the turmeric and chopped chili peppers. Stir and cook until the lentils are soft and still hold their shape. Cover with a lid, partially, to speed up the cooking. If you cover the pan fully with the lid, the water will boil over.½ cup moong dal (yellow lentils), 3 and ½ cups water,, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 2 green chili peppers
Temper the spices
- While the lentils are cooking, place a skillet on medium heat. Add the ghee and whole spices. Fry till the cumin become darker in color and the bay leaves are aromatic.1 teaspoon ghee, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 or 2 bay leaves, 1 dried red chili
- Add the crushed ginger, chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes soften, but don’t turn mushy.You can tell that the lentils are cooked when they split on their sides. They need just a few more minutes to become soft and creamy.1 tablespoon crushed or minced ginger, ¾ teaspoon salt,, 1 medium sized (~80g) tomato,
- Add these spices to the lentils as they cook. Mix well. Cook for a few more minutes, letting the flavours blend and the lentils finish cooking.Check for salt and add more if required. If the dal is too thick, add ½ cup more water.
- Finish off with garnishes, if using.½ teaspoon ghee, ½ teaspoon bhuna jeera, 1 or 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro (coriander), ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- Serve with rice or roti.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.