It’s lunch time and I decided to cook a comforting bean meal full of Indian flavors and spices.
Dhal (or Dal/Dahl) is a traditional Indian dish made of pulses. However, mung beans dishes are also very typical for Central Asia, where I spent most of my childhood and used to eat mung beans there quite a lot. Therefore, this dish is more Uzbek than Indian to me. In addition, my recipe is absolutely mine and I used ingredients by inspiration, choosing the best combination of all tastes.
It’s not the classic version of dhal, of course, since I don’t fry the spices separately and don’t blend the cooked meal. In fact, this is more of a bean garnish, which I turned into a main course. I like it very much because it’s a filling, hearty and easily digestible protein lunch that will give you a feeling of fullness for 3-5 hours.
Few words about the ingredients.
To be honest, I really love celery (and I realized how much I do just recently).
I like to chew celery stems while cooking, I like it with hummus and avocado, I like it in salad, stewed, and in a liquid form, too (e.g. green detox juice).
Celery, by the way, is also very typical for a great healthy Italian cuisine. Celery in our recipe today will add a touch of freshness to the dish and you shouldn’t exclude it.
We will also need carrots, onions, garlic, chili, geera (cumin), cilantro, lemon juice and canned tomatoes (natural tomato paste or crushed tomatoes).
Mung beans and lentils belong to the legumes family and have been consumed by humans since ancient times (learn more about foods here).
Puy lentils (green color) are very fragrant and spicy; mung beans – small green peas – have their own character, too. Both pulses take long to cook, up to 45 minutes, but the upside is that they keep the form even after cooking. I don’t usually soak them, just washing them well.
After you have mixed the pulses and washed them well, transfer them to a pan, pour water in the proportion of 1 to 2,5, that is, a cup of beans and 2,5 cups of water, add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and leave to cook with the unclosed lid for 40 minutes.
While the mung beans and lentils are cooking, chop the other foods – carrots, celery, onions, garlic, chili and cilantro. Get 1/4 lemon and a can of tomatoes.
As you may have noticed I didn’t mention adding salt – add it only 10 minutes before the beans are ready. At the same time, add some vegetable oil (I use rapeseed oil) to a large frying pan and fry together onion and garlic, then start adding carrots and celery, chili, and finally salt. When the vegetables will become golden, add tomatoes, squeeze the juice of 1/4 lemon, season with black pepper and mix everything well. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then transfer mung beans and lentils to the rest of the vegetables, mix, let sit with a closed lid for 5 minutes. Decorate with fresh cilantro.
The dish is delicious, satisfying and nourishing, and simple. It’s a great source of plant protein and good mood!