I think I mentioned this before: in the Indian culinary world, dal is used to describe any legume that has been split and had its outer skin removed. That’s why when you go to Indian shops the legume section is full of a dizzying array of dals. Red dal comes from red lentils; toor dal, from pigeon peas; and mung dal, from mung beans.
Most Indian dal soups are sort of made in the same way. First you boil the dal until it gets soft then you temper it with spices. The tempering process is nothing more than sautéing the ingredients until the raw smells are gone and then adding everything to the soup. You can vary the amount of spices or use a different type of dal to create soups with varying flavors and even textures. They’re a snap to make once you’ve tried and inevitably taste great. Leftovers are even better the next day.
I served this soup with basmati rice with black pepper and cashews. Yum!
mung bean dal soup
1 lb mung dal (split-skinless mung beans)
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp canola oil
4 small fresh onions including green parts
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 Serrano pepper, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
5 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp madras curry powder
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
Rinse mung dal then add to a pan with turmeric powder and madras curry powder. Submerge dal with hot water to cover it by one inch. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes. Stir every few minutes or so to prevent sticking. Add more hot water as necessary. Discard scum that forms at the top. Dal will be ready when it dissolves and turns into a thick paste with the consistency of porridge.
Heat up a saucepan with oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add minced Serrano pepper, ginger and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add cumin and coriander powders followed by the curry leaves. Transfer this mix to the soup. Add salt and adjust flavors. Serve.