Having your mother cook for you is one of those rare pleasures to truly cherish. I only see my mother a few times a year and I try my hardest not to shadow her every move. Or to annoy her too much with endless requests for her to make our favourites.

If your mother’s cooking repertoire is anything like mine, the fare is homely, rustic even. But nothing could compare. I ran around my mother jotting this recipe down as she sprinkled, tossed and stirred.

The moong dhal (Indian mung beans) are a lovely military green and available from Indian stores and spice shops. Mine are from Durban; I haven’t spotted them in Cape Town but if you have, do tell us where to find them.


250 ml moong dhal beans

1 litre cold water + extra for cooking

2 T oil

1 T ghee or butter

1 onion, sliced

1 t cumin seeds

1 t fresh ginger, grated finely

3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1/2 t cayenne pepper (optional)

2 green chillis, slit

1/2 t turmeric powder

2 T chopped, peeled tomato

125 ml coriander, washed and chopped roughly

Salt, to taste


Clean (this means remove any grit or impurities) and soak the moong beans in cold water overnight and leave in a cool place or hot water for 1 hour prior to cooking.

In a pot on medium heat, add the rinsed beans as well as enough water to cover it by at least 5 centimeters. Once the pot comes to the boil, lower heat and cook on simmer until done, that is soft but not mushy – 25-30 minutes. Add more water as needed. Beans should have absorbed most of the water by the time they are cooked.

If you have a pressure cooker this process will be quicker, especially if you do not have time to soak the beans.

While the moong beans are cooking, heat a frying pan on medium. Add oil and ghee and fry onions till starting to turn translucent. Add cumin, ginger, garlic, chillis, turmeric, cayenne and stir well. Cook for a minute or two. Take off the heat.

When the moong dhal is ready, add the pan of spiced onions to the pot, as well as 1 cup water, salt, the coriander and tomato.

Cook on low heat until it thickens a little – 10 minutes. I like a dhal, like my mothers which is quite ‘saucy’, so you may need to add more water and adjust seasoning acoordingly.

Serve over basmati rice or scoop up with hot rotis. Pickles on the side are a must!

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  1. Meeta on 25 July 2012

    I love my mother’s cooking and like yours she makes some incredible dal dishes. Love this!


  2. Ishay on 26 July 2012

    Thanks Meeta – those wonderful, comforting dishes of our childhood that the fine dining can never compare to.


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  4. Paula Cristina neto on 09 August 2012

    looks sooooo delicious, but too complicated. πŸ™‚


  5. Ishay on 12 August 2012

    It’s easy Paula, really πŸ˜‰


  6. Paula Cristina neto on 14 August 2012

    Naaaa πŸ™‚


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  8. Khuzzy on 11 August 2012

    Mmmmm. Ming Dahl or Mug as its called in my culture, is one of my husbands favourite dishes. I’ve learnt to this all in one pot thing. I add water, all spices mentioned by you above, fried onions into a pot, close the lid. Simmer it for about an hour, uncover, add ghee and I’m done. Just thought I’d share that with you so you can try it some time. πŸ˜€


  9. Ishay on 12 August 2012

    Hello! Thanks for the comment- I really appreciate that tip. A huge fan of a good short cut. Hope you visit again soon πŸ™‚


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  11. Nicola on 17 August 2012

    LOVE Moong Dhal, but haven’t made it before – going to try your recipe this weekend πŸ™‚ I picked up some Moong Dhal at Fargos x


  12. Ishay on 21 August 2012

    Hope you enjoyed cooking this Nicola πŸ™‚


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  14. Nicola in Ireland on 30 August 2012

    I love dahl, I really want to make this & for once I have all the ingredients. For another recipe I soaked the mung beans for 3 days. I had loads left over so I froze them. Have you any idea of the quantity of these 3 day pre soaked mung beans I should use for this recipe? Thanks Nico


  15. Ishay on 02 September 2012

    Hello Nicola! Thank you for writing. I’m not familiar with that method, so sorry not to be able to assit with that. Do hope you enjoy making the recipe πŸ™‚


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  17. sushmita on 17 September 2012

    Hi,Thats nice recipie. In India after boiling the dal, we usually apply tadka to it, and that enhances all the flavour. We use Moong dal once in every week either for preparing moong dal khichdi for infants , moong dal Chilla, Moong dal halwa, or simple moong daal Salad. Anyways Thanks for sharing the recipie. looking for more πŸ™‚


  18. Ishay on 17 September 2012

    Hello, thank you sharing that! Happy cooking


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  20. Richard on 23 October 2012

    Hey Ishay,

    Just done a story on Atlas Trading in Bo Kaap and I’m 90% certain they sell moong dhal.



  21. Ishay on 23 October 2012

    Thanks for the info Rich. Atlas Trading- love them!


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  23. Farzana on 31 October 2012

    Yes. I have not cooked Moong b4 but will definetly try this, luckily i bought some a few weeks ago…Cape Spice in landsdowne road.


  24. Carey on 08 February 2013

    Namaste, thank you for this recipe, bought a packet ages ago and couldn’t find an authentic recipe to make it. Absolutely love Indian food, particularly North Indian Balti, drooling now….:)


  25. Ishay on 08 February 2013

    Namaste and thank you. I hope you enjoy making this dish. It’s such a comforting dish.


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  27. terry on 07 June 2013

    Namaste Ishay, a big thanks. will enjoy while listening to Bollywood hot hits her in Asia. Miss Victory Lounge and Bangladesh in Chats-W and all back there.


  28. Ishay on 07 June 2013

    Hello Terry! Ah, the memories. Thank you for writing πŸ™‚


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  30. Brain on 28 September 2015

    Ilove these simple delicious dishes, and healthy too, had green bean/potato curry once, divine



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