Moong Dal Recipe | Moong Dal Fry and Tadka

Moong Dal are delicious, healthy and protein rich dishes made from hulled and split mung beans or yellow moong lentils. Here I share two different recipes that feature tasty lentils: Moong Dal Tadka, with flavorful seasonings tempered in hot oil or ghee, and Moong Dal Fry, which includes lightly sautéing aromatics before mixing with the cooked mung lentils. Both methods are easy to prepare with my step-by-step instructions and photos, and create incredibly savory, satisfying lentil dishes!

moong dal recipe in white bowl with a plate of steamed rice and a vegetable dish in the background

What is Moong Dal

Lentils, and mung beans in particular, are a staple in Indian cuisine. They are commonly pressure cooked to become wonderfully tender, and served as saucy main dishes with roti, paratha or steamed rice.

Moong dal here refers to skinned and split mung beans also known as petite yellow lentils. They originally are greenish in color, but have a yellow color once the husks are removed.

On the other hand, a dal recipe is also referred to as Dal and so this preparation made with mung lentils is also called Moong Dal.

Compared to other lentils, Moong lentils are among the easiest to digest. Therefore they are often recommended for low glycemic diets, and are a part of the detox diet in Ayurveda.

Dishes with mung beans are thought to balance the Kapha, Pita and Vata doshas in the body, and thus are tridoshic in nature as per Ayurveda.

If you are like moong lentils, than you can also check out this tasty recipe made with green gram or whole moong lentils – Green Moong Dal

More on Moong Dal Tadka

‘Tadka’ here refers to the cooking method used to make this recipe: It is called tempering in English, and no, it’s not in any way related to tempering chocolate. In this method, the spices and herbs are first fried in oil or ghee (clarified butter).

Basically it is blooming of spices in fat. Frying them releases their essential aroma and flavors into the oil. After being fried, this entire infusion of the spices, herbs and the oil is added to the completed cooked moong dal.

Sometimes moong dal recipes can lack flavor. However, as I’m sure you can imagine this dish is absolutely bursting with bold, savory spices. It includes tempered cumin, garlic, garam masala and red chili powder. Together they create a rich, earthy, wonderfully tasty dish.

Once you make this delicious moong dal recipe, you are going to have a whole new opinion of the humble dal!

The consistency of Moong Dal Tadka is somewhere between a curry and soup, slightly thin and pourable but still with a good bit of body. It’s perfect to serve with some steamed basmati rice and a side vegetable dish and/or raita.

And I always recommend that you have some roasted papad and lemon or mango pickle on the side, too, for a complete meal. I love to pair moong dal tadka with some steamed basmati rice and Aloo Methi.

Difference between Tadka and Fry

Though both the tadka and fry versions may look the same, preparation methods and the final taste of each dish is quite unique and different.

  1. Moong dal tadka has the lentils cooked first with aromatics. Later the spices are bloomed in fat for their flavors and aroma to release. This blooming of spices is called as tadka, chaunk, vaghar in Indian languages. This tempering mixture is mixed with the cooked moong dal which perks up the flavors more.
  2. Moong dal fry has the only the lentils cooked first. A sautéed mixture of onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs is added to the cooked lentils and further simmered for a few minutes. Though the word ‘fry’ is used, keep in mind that nothing is literally fried in the recipe.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Moong Dal Tadka

Prep

1. First, rinse ½ a cup of moong dal (split husked mung lentils) in water a couple of times. Drain all the water and set aside.

rinsing moong dal with water

2. You will need to boil the moong lentils. In a 3 litre stove-top pressure cooker or Instant Pot add the following ingredients together with the rinsed moong lentils:

  • 1 medium sized finely chopped onion or ⅓ cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 medium sized chopped tomato or ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 inch of peeled and finely chopped ginger
  • ⅓ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of red chili powder or cayenne pepper
moong dal recipe ingredients in pressure cooker

3. Add 1.5 cups of water, and stir well.

water mixed with ingredients in pressure cooker

Pressure Cook Lentils

4. Pressure cook the lentils, aromatics, spices and herbs for 5 to 6 whistles on medium heat, until the lentils are cooked perfectly and softened. Let the pressure fall naturally in the stove-top cooker and then only open the lid. Remove the lid and stir the dal.

For the Instant Pot, this will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes on manual pressure. Once you hear the beep sound when the cooking is complete, do a quick pressure release after 10 minutes.

cooked moong lentils

5. The dal should be loose with a medium flowing consistency. If the dal looks thick, then add some water. Start with half a cup and stir, and add more water as needed.

water being added to cooked moong dal

6. Simmer (or use the saute function on the IP) the moong dal for 1 to 2 minutes or more until you get just the right consistency. It should have a consistency some where like that of a curry.

simmering moong dal

7. Add salt to taste and mix well. Set the dal aside.

small mound of salt on cooked moong dal

Make Moong Dal Tadka

8. Gather and measure all of your ingredients needed to temper the moong dal. In a small pan on low-medium heat, melt 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil, ghee or butter.

ghee being melted in small pan (tadka pan)

9. Fry 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds in the hot oil. They should change color and crackle, but not burn. Turn the heat down to low if needed.

cumin seeds frying in ghee in pan

10. Next add 4 to 5 lightly crushed garlic cloves and 1 to 2 slit green chilies to the pot. Fry for a few seconds, but don’t brown the garlic. Turn off the stovetop heat immediately.

slit green chilies, garlic being fried in ghee.

11. Once the heat is off, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder, ¼ teaspoon of red chili powder and 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing). Switching off the heat ensures that the spice powders don’t get burned.

ground spices in small pan

12. Quickly mix the spice powders well with a spoon. This is your tempering mixture to add flavor to the moong dal.

tadka mixture in pan

13. After stirring, immediately pour the tempering mixture into the pot with the cooked lentils. Stir the moong dal tadka well to combine.

tadka poured on moong dal.

14. Serve Moong Dal Tadka hot with steamed rice or Roti. The moong dal tastes delicious as-is with no need to garnish. But feel free to sprinkle with some chopped coriander leaves to add a pop of fresh flavor.

For a slight tang of bright acidity, you can also squeeze some lemon juice onto the dish before serving.

moong dal on white bowl

About Moong Dal Fry

This is a quick and easy Punjabi recipe of delicious moong dal fry at home which I often make. I make a variety of lentils on a daily basis and mung dal happens to be one of them.

In this Moong dal fry recipe, the mung lentils are cooked first. Then a sautéed mixture of onions, tomatoes and spices is added to the cooked mung lentils which is then simmered for some more minutes. The end result is a smooth, creamy and flavorful moong dal.

moong dal fry in white bowl with a side of steamed rice on a white plate

Legumes or dal are a staple in the Indian Cuisine and there are so many ways of making them. In the Indian Cuisine, you will find many variations of dal – from the simplest basic version made with minimal ingredients to spicy or rich versions made with many ingredients.

Each Indian state has their own versions of a dal tadka or dal fry. In the state itself, the versions keep on changing in some cities or towns.

You can serve the yellow moong dal fry with Indian flat breads like roti, paratha or with cumin rice or steamed basmati rice.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Moong Dal Fry

Cook Moong Dal

1. Firstly pick and rinse ½ cup moong dal (split and hulled mung lentils) for a few times with water. You can also rinse the yellow moong lentils in a colander.

rinsing yellow moong lentils with water in colander

2. Then add the mung lentils in a 3 litre stove-top pressure cooker together with 2.5 cups of water and a pinch of turmeric powder. Stir and mix very well.

moong lentils and water being stirred in pressure cooker

3. Pressure cook the lentils for 5 to 6 whistles or till they are soft and mushy.

cooked yellow moong dal

4. Mash the lentils with a spoon.

lentils being mashed with wooden spoon

5. Add 1 cup water or as required, to get the desired consistency.

water being added to mashed yellow moong dal

6. Add salt as required and mix again.

salt being added

7. On a low heat, keep the dal to simmer. Remember to stir often so that the lentils does not get browned or burnt or stick to the bottom of the cooker.

simmering moong dal

Make Moong Dal Fry

8. Meanwhile, measure and keep all the ingredients ready. In a kadai or pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil together with ½ tablespoon butter.

oil and butter in pan

9. Crackle 1 teaspoon cumin seeds first.

cumin seeds in oil and butter mixture in pan

10. Then add 1 medium sized chopped onion (about ⅓ cup chopped onions). Sauté the onions till light brown. Stir often when sautéing onions.

onions being sautéed in pan

11. Then add 1 inch chopped ginger, 3 to 4 chopped small to medium garlic cloves, 1 green chili and 1 dry red chili (seeds removed). Sauté for half a minute.

ginger, green chilies, dry red chili with sautéed onions in pan

12. Add 1 medium sized tomato which has been chopped (about ½ cup chopped tomatoes). Sauté stirring often until the tomatoes soften.

tomatoes being sautéed

13. Then add the following spices and stir to combine:

  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
ground spices added to the sautéed mixture

14. Next add ½ teaspoon crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves.

coriander leaves and crushed dry fenugreek leaves in pan

15. Stir and continue to sauté till oil starts to leave the sides of the masala. And later continue to sauté further for 1 to 2 minutes more after oil has started to leave the sides.

sautéed mixture in pan

16. Add this mixture to the simmering dal.

sautéed mixture added to cooked dal to make moong dal fry

17. Stir and simmer the dal for 2 to 3 minutes or more. You have to simmer till the flavors have blended well in the moong dal and you get the desired consistency.

simmering moong dal fry

18. If you prefer you can add a few drops of lemon juice.

drops of lemon juice being added to moong dal fry

19. Mix well. Taste the dal and add salt if required. Turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.

coriander leaves on moong dal fry in the cooker

20. Serve Moong Dal Fry with steamed rice, cumin rice or with Indian flatbreads like roti, paratha or naan.

moong dal fry in white bowl

Expert Tips

  • While cooking any lentil dish, I suggest to use unpolished lentils for optimum flavor and nutrition.
  • If you prefer you can soak the moong lentils for 20 to 30 minutes. Soaking them will reduce the cooking time.
  • Either of the recipe can be turned into a one pot cooking method and can be made in a stove-top pressure cooker or Instant pot. Simply sauté the spices, aromatics first, add the lentils and water as needed. Pressure cook until done.
  • Feel free to reduce or increase the pungent spices and herbs like red chilli powder, ginger, garlic and green chilies according to your taste buds.
  • Make sure to cook the lentils until they are softened and mushy. You can also adjust the consistency by adding less or more water.
  • For a gluten-free moong dal recipe, omit adding the asafoetida.

More Indian Dal Recipes To Try!

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moong dal in a white bowl

Moong Dal Recipe | Moong Dal Fry and Tadka

Moong Dal are delicious, healthy and protein rich dishes made from hulled and split mung beans or yellow moong dal. Here I share two different recipes that include these tasty lentils – Moong Dal Tadka and Moong Dal Fry.

4.9 from 79 votes

Prep Time 5 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 35 mins

For Moong Dal Tadka – Recipe 1

For Tempering (Tadka) – Recipe 1

For Moong Dal Fry – Recipe 2

Making Moong Dal Tadka – Recipe 1

  • First rinse the moong lentils a couple of times in water. Drain the water and set the lentils aside.

  • In a 3 litre stove-top pressure cooker take the rinsed lentils, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and finely chopped ginger. Also add the turmeric powder, red chili powder and water to the cooker. Mix well.

  • Pressure cook for 5 to 6 whistles on medium flame till the moong lentils are softened well. Once the pressure settles down, remove the lid and stir the dal.

  • If the dal looks thick, then add some water and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

  • Add salt. Mix very well and keep aside. Check the taste and if required you can add more salt.

  • In a small pan, heat oil or ghee or butter. First fry the cumin seeds.

  • Next add the garlic and green chili and fry for some seconds. Don’t brown the garlic. Switch off the flame.

  • Now add the garam masala powder, red chili powder and asafoetida. Switching off the flame earlier ensures that the spice powders don’t get burned.

  • Quickly stir and immediately pour the tempering mixture in the dal.

  • Stir the dal and serve hot moong dal with steamed rice or chapatis.

  • The moong dal tadka tastes better as it is and there is no need to garnish or add coriander leaves to it. But if you want you can always garnish with some coriander leaves. For a slight tang you can also squeeze some lemon juice.

Making Moong Dal Fry – Recipe 2

  • Pick and rinse the mung lentils first for a few times in water.

  • Then add the lentils in a 3 litre stove-top pressure cooker along with water and turmeric powder. Stir and pressure cook the lentils for 5 to 6 whistles till the dal is soft and mushy.

  • Mash the moong dal with a spoon.Stir in some salt and add water as required to get the desired consistency. Keep the dal to simmer on a low flame.

  • Heat oil along with the butter on a low heat. Crackle the cumin seeds first.

  • Add onions and fry till light brown.Now add the ginger, garlic, green chilies & dry red chili. Sauté for half a minute.

  • Add the tomatoes and sauté till the tomatoes soften.Add all the red chili powder, garam masala powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida, kasuri methi and coriander leaves.

  • Stir and continue to sauté till oil starts to leave the sides of the masala. Continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes more after oil has started to leave the sides.

  • Add this mixture to the simmering dal. Stir and simmer the dal for 2 to 3 minutes or more till the flavors have well blended in the dal and till you get the desired consistency.

  • If you prefer you can add a few drops of lemon juice to the dal. Serve Moong Dal Fry garnished with coriander leaves with steamed rice, cumin rice or even chapati.

  1. Soaking: You can soak the lentils for 20 to 30 minutes and this will speed up the cooking time.
  2. Green Chillies: You can use serrano peppers instead of the Indian green chillies. You can even replace the green chillies with dried red chillies.
  3. Consistency: You can have a thick or medium or thin consistency of the dal by adding less water or more water later.
  4. Asafoetida: If you do not have asafoetida, skip it. For a gluten-free moong dal skip adding asafoetida.
  5. Spicing: You can decrease or increase the herbs & spices like red chilli powder, green chillies, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds according to your preferences. But do not increase the amount of turmeric powder. 
  6. To cook moong lentils in a pot or pan:
    • Soak the lentils in water for about 30 to 40 minutes. Then drain them and add in a pot.
    • Add about 2 cups of water. Cover and let the lentils cook till done.
    • If the mung lentils begin to froth, then remove the scum and continue to cook without a lid or the lid partly covered.
    • You can also add a few drops of oil to reduce the frothing.
  • Note that the approximate nutrition info is for 1 serving of moong dal tadka.

Nutrition Facts

Moong Dal Recipe | Moong Dal Fry and Tadka

Amount Per Serving

Calories 185 Calories from Fat 72

% Daily Value*

Fat 8g12%

Saturated Fat 5g31%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 2g

Cholesterol 19mg6%

Sodium 134mg6%

Potassium 105mg3%

Carbohydrates 22g7%

Fiber 5g21%

Sugar 3g3%

Protein 7g14%

Vitamin A 324IU6%

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%

Vitamin B6 1mg50%

Vitamin C 9mg11%

Vitamin E 1mg7%

Vitamin K 2µg2%

Calcium 31mg3%

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 6µg2%

Iron 2mg11%

Magnesium 9mg2%

Phosphorus 18mg2%

Zinc 1mg7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Moong Dal recipe post from the archives first published in May 2013 and has been republished and updated on 13 May 2022.

Source: Dassana’s Veg Recipes