Mung bean curry, also known as green moong dal or green gram curry, is a tasty way to enjoy plant-based proteins. Made with whole mung beans that are soaked and cooked with simple spices, it is cozy and satisfying and will make the whole family happy! Learn how to make this easy vegan curry in under an hour (plus soaking time!).
My pantry always has a bag of these beans because my family and I love them in all their forms: whole, sprouted and lentil.
Pesarattu, crepes made with soaked whole mung beans that are ground into a batter with ginger and green chilies, is our favorite Sunday breakfast. We make a crunchy vegetable and mung bean salad with sprouting mung beans as our go-to working lunch. On busy days, we savor this uplifting yellow lentil soup when a simple one-pot dish is all we have time for.
Of all the dishes that I make with whole moong dal, this mung bean curry is my favorite. I turn to it when I need my protein fix. It fills me with a nourishing warmth that no other meal does when I serve it over a warm bed of no onion garlic pulao and drizzle some homemade ghee on top!
What are your favorite whole beans? Do let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you. - Padma
Allergens Free Labels
This delicious green moong dal recipe is naturally gluten free. It is also free of:
- Dairy (not, if you add ghee)
This recipe can be easily made without tomatoes by adding some lime juice (or lemon juice, if you prefer) instead. Add it at the end of the cooking process, after you have taken the pot from the heat.
A note about mung beans
These green legumes from the pea family are native to India and are now also widely cultivated in Asia. They are used extensively in savory and sweet dishes across Southeast Asia.
They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are known for their many health benefits. With 1 cup mung beans (cooked) having about 14 grams of protein, they are a rich source of protein and other nutrients such as iron and vitamin B1.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of healing, prizes green gram, another name for mung beans, as something that settles digestive issues and brings happiness.
Whole mung beans are also known as green moong dal, sabut moong dal (sabut means "whole" in Hindi), and green gram dal. When split, they are known as yellow lentils or moong dal.
Do mung beans need to be soaked before cooking?
Yes, mung beans, like other legumes, need soaking before cooking.
Soak them for 4-5 hours or overnight and then boil them well for a smooth and creamy texture. But don’t worry if you forgot to soak them. There is a solution. Read on to learn how to cook mung beans without soaking them.
How do you cook mung beans?
There are 3 ways of cooking mung bean for curry:
- Most recommended: Soak them in water for 4-5 hours and then cook them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes (3 "whistles", if you are using a jiggle top cooker). Alternatively, cook them in a casserole or Dutch oven with plenty of water until they are done, but not mushy. Add salt while cooking. This makes the beans evenly salted.
- Short cut method: Soak them in hot water for 1 hour (with the lid on) and then cook them until they are soft. Add salt.
- Quick fix method (least recommended): Rinse the dry mung beans in several changes of water. Then place them in the cooking pot with 3 times the water, cover and cook on medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until the beans are soft (stir and check on them a few times). Add salt at about 20 minutes into the cooking.
Note: You can cook them in a pressure cooker (as I have) or in an instant pot.
I love making this mung bean curry with minimal spices in order to highlight the lovely flavor and natural sweetness of beans.
Check recipe card for quantities.
- Tomatoes: I have used canned tomatoes because it is easy! If you are using fresh tomatoes, use the skin, seeds, and all. If your tomatoes are not sour enough, use some tomato paste as well to enhance the flavor.
- Kasuri methi: These are shade-dried tender fenugreek leaves. You will find this in most Indian grocery stores. Or use fresh cilantro instead.
- Green chili peppers: Use as mild or as hot as you can handle. It is absolutely ok to skip adding them.
- Aromatics: The pantry staples and holy trinity in the world of Indian cooking: onions, ginger garlic. For best flavor, use fresh ginger and garlic.
- Oil: I have used neutral oil. To amp up the flavor and fragrance, use ghee instead.
- Ground coriander: Also known as coriander powder.
- Garam masala: Use homemade or shop bought one. Curry powder will also work.
- Turmeric: Use turmeric powder and not fresh turmeric.
- Salt: I have used pink salt. Use whatever you regularly use in your cooking.
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.
Equipment: I make this dish in a stove top pressure cooker to save time. I use the traditional jiggle top pressure cooker. You can follow the same process and make it in an electric cooker or and Instant Pot instead.
No pressure cooker or Instant Pot? You can make this recipe in a heavy bottomed pot, like a soup pot, a casserole or a Dutch oven. See the section above for cooking mung beans without pressure cooker.
Gather all the ingredients and equipment and let's make this amazing mung beans curry.
Also see the video at the end of the recipe card.
Step 1: Soak the beans.
Wash the beans in 2-3 changes of water and soak them plenty of water (about 1 inch above the beans) for 4-5 hours or overnight.
Forgotten to soak the beans? No worries! See the section above on how to cook mung beans if you have not soaked them beforehand.
Step 2: Cook the beans.
After soaking the beans, drain the water and rinse them. Put them in a pressure cooker with 3 cups water and salt.
Lock the lid and heat it over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes (3 “whistles” in a jiggle top cooker).
Let the pressure release naturally. Then open the lid and transfer the beans and the water to a bowl. Set it aside. The beans should be soft but not mushy.
Step 3: Prep for the sauce.
- Chop finely: onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies and tomatoes (if using fresh ones)
- Boil: 1-2 cups of water
Step 4: Make the curry.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once they darken, add the chopped garlic, ginger and green chilies. Add the onions. Saute until the onions start turning golden brown.
Add the tomatoes, salt, and the spice powders. Stir, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes are mushy (use the back of the ladle to mash the tomatoes faster).
Add the cooked mung beans, their water and 2 cups more of hot water. Bring it to a gentle boil. Cover and cook (without pressure) for 4-5 minutes.
Consistency: How you want to serve the dish will determine its consistency. If you want to have it with bread, adjust the water quantity so that you can scoop up the curry with a piece of bread. If you want to have it with rice or as a soup, add some more water.
Step 5: Finish off.
Crush kasuri methi between your palms (this will help release their aroma) and add it to the cooking dal. Cover and let it rest for a minutes or so for the flavors to blend.
Turn off the heat and add ghee and lime juice, if using.
Serve as a main with a side dish of your choice. See the section below for suggestions.
Tips, Substitutes and Variations
As I mentioned earlier, this easy mung bean curry is very forgiving. I have made it many times over the years and have learned to make it perfectly. I am sharing some of my tips with you so that you can also make an amazing dish every time.
- Cook the mung beans until they are soft, but not mushy. This gives the curry a lovely texture.
- The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity. Mung beans have a sweet tone to them. Just a few simple spices are enough to bring out their best flavor.
- The subtle flavors of finely chopped onions, garlic, and ginger work much better in this recipe than grinding them to a paste, as most curries require you to do.
- Although I say that adding kasuri methi is optional, I highly recommend that you do. It is such a game changer!
- Adding a spoonful of ghee (if you can) will add a lovely depth of flavor to the dish.
Substitutions and Variations:
- No Kasuri methi? Use coriander leaves (cilantro) instead.
- Want it creamier? Add coconut milk or coconut cream after the tomatoes have cooked.
- Out of mung beans? Make it with split moong beans instead. Other beans that will work well instead of mung beans are black-eyed beans and butter beans. Do keep in mind that the cooking time of these will be different from that of green mung beans.
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
Serving, Storage, Making ahead
I can eat this green gram curry any time of the day 😆, by itself or with some sides to make a full meal. Here are some ways I like to have it and I think you will too:
- On a bed of mashed sweet potato and with this chia seeds salad for a filling grain-free, vegan meal 💚.
- With this jeera rice and carrot radish pickle for the most satisfying gluten-free lunch 😋.
- With some gluten free roti, plain rice, onion salad, and cucumber raita for a food-coma-inducing holiday lunch 😂.
Storage: This dish tastes even better the next day, so make a big batch and save for later. Let it cool to room temperature and the store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheating: Moong lentils tend to thicken as they cool down. To reheat, put the curry on the stove in a thick bottomed pan and add a little warm water. Bring it to a gentle boil on medium heat and stir occasionally.
Note: Reheat only what you need. Do not reheat the whole batch.
Making ahead: This recipe requires a total time of 5 hours to make it from scratch, which includes a minimum of 4 hours of soaking the beans, 20 minutes to cook them, and another 20 minutes to bring it all together. You can soak and cook the beans ahead of time and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days. When I make one batch of this dish, I cook an extra batch of beans that I save and use later.
Frequently Asked Questions
Moong dal and mung beans are different forms of the same legume.
Mung beans are the whole, unsplit beans that have a green skin and a yellow interior. Moong dal, also known as split mung beans, are the beans that have been split and husked, revealing the yellow insides. Moong dal cook faster and have a creamier texture than mung beans, which are more firm and retain their shape.
Delicious mung bean curry can be served with various accompaniments. I love having moong bean curry with some cooked white rice. Here are some more ways to enjoy this dish:
-With some mashed regular or sweet potatoes and a salad on the side.
-With some naan bread, brown rice, onion salad and some raita to make a traditional Indian meal.
-With some mango chutney and poppadum to make a fun evening snack.
No, it is not OK to eat raw mung bean. Raw mung beans contain toxins and enzymes that can interfere with digestion and cause stomach problems. Therefore, you should always cook or sprout mung beans before eating them. Cooking or sprouting mung beans can deactivate the toxins and enzymes and kill the bacteria. It can also make them more nutritious and easier to digest. Mung beans are a delicious and healthy legume that can be enjoyed in many ways, but not raw.
Mung beans are small legumes that cook quickly compared to other beans. The best way to cook them is to soak them in water for at least 5 hours and then boil them in water with some salt until they are soft but not mushy. This can take anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes, depending on whether you use whole or split mung beans. You can cook them in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot for faster results.
Yes, you need to wash mung beans before cooking them. Washing mung beans helps to remove any dirt, debris, or impurities that may be present. It also rinses off any toxins or enzymes that can cause digestive problems or interfere with the flavor. To wash mung beans, place them in a colander and wash in several changes of water until the water runs clear.
If you have made this mung bean curry, 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
Easy Mung Bean Curry (Green Moong Dal) Recipe
- 1 pressure cooker see notes
- 1 saucepan
- 1 ladle
- 1 bowl with lid, to soak the beans and to later tip the cooked beans
To soak the beans
- 1 cup (~200g) dry mung beans (green moong dal)
- 3-4 cups water
To cook the beans
- soaked mung beans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water,
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, or ghee
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 inch (~15g) fresh ginger
- 3 cloves (~10g) garlic
- 2 green chilies, more if you like
- 2 small (~100g) onions
- 1 cup (~250g) canned tomatoes, or 2 medium sized tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt, adjust to taste.
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- 4 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 cups hot water, see notes
To finish off (optional)
- 2 teaspoons kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), see notes
- 1 teaspoon ghee,
- 2 teaspoons lime juice, more of you like it tangier
Prep the mung beans
- Wash the beans in 2-3 changes of water and soak them in 3-4 cups of water (about 1 inch above the beans) for 4-5 hours or overnight. Forgotten to do soak the beans? No worries! See my notes above in the post on how to cook mung beans without soaking.
- After soaking the beans, drain the water and rinse them. Put them in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of water and salt. Lock the lid and heat it over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes (3 “whistles” in a jiggle top cooker). The beans should be soft but not mushy. Let the pressure release naturally. Then open the lid and transfer the beans and the water to a bowl. Set it aside.soaked mung beans, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups water,
Prep for the sauce
- Chop finely: onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies and tomatoes (if using fresh ones)
- Boil: 2 cups of water.
Making green moong dal recipe
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds darken, add the chopped garlic, ginger and green chilies. Fry for 1 minute and then add the onions. Saute until the onions start turning golden brown.2 tablespoons neutral oil,, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 2 small (~100g) onions, 1 inch (~15g) fresh ginger, 3 cloves (~10g) garlic, 2 green chilies,
- Add the tomatoes, salt (you have already added salt to the beans, so this is only for the sauce), and the spice powders. Stir, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomatoes are mushy (use the back of the ladle to mash the tomatoes faster).1 cup (~250g) canned tomatoes,, ½ teaspoon salt,, ¾ teaspoon turmeric, 4 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Add the cooked mung beans, their water and 2 more cups of hot water. Bring it to a gentle boil. Cover and cook (without pressure) for 4-5 minutes.2 cups hot water,
To finish off
- Crush kasuri methi between your palms (this will help release their aroma) and add it to the cooking dal. Cover and let it rest for a minutes or so for the flavors to blend.2 teaspoons kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves),, 1 teaspoon ghee,
- Turn off the heat and add ghee and lime juice, if using.
- Serve with cumin rice or any other side of your choice.
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.