Traditional Dal

400g mung dal (skinned yellow split mung beans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4cm piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into 4
1 tbsp turmeric
4 small green chillies, 2 finely chopped, 2 left whole ( or one of each if you do not like the heat)
2 tbsp ghee or groundnut oil (coconut oil works well)
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed chilli
Fresh coriander, chopped to serve

  1. Wash the dal until the water runs clear, then drain and put in a large pan and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and chopped chillies to the pan with a pinch of salt, turn down the heat, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer very gently for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the dal has broken down completely and become creamy.
  3. Add boiling water or reduce the dal further to achieve your preferred consistency if necessary, and season to taste –  add about 1 tsp salt,  then add the whole chillies and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and add the shallots. Stir until golden and beginning to crisp, then add the dried spices and cook for a couple of minutes until the mustard seeds are beginning to pop. Tip over the dal, stir in, and top with chopped coriander. Serve with plain rice or flatbreads.

Additonal:

If you're making a more complex dal, pound together garlic, green chillies, ginger, tomatoes and salt, and then frying them with onion and spices to make a highly aromatic sauce which gives the finished dal a rich and complex flavour.