Recipes

Bhaja Muger Dal ~ Roasted Mung Lentil soup

‘Bhaja muger dal’. When I first read the name of the dish I wanted to repeat the words again and again. Bengali, spokenby the people of Bengal in India is a very lyrical, melodious language, bhaja muger dal is a melodius tweet. I made muger dal today for the love of the language, and all the while I found myself unconsciously siphoning thoughts that have been relegated to a deep pensieve in my mind.

My mother reminisces a lot of the one year she spent in Kolkata. She tells me that we lived near the famous Kali temple. She speaks of eating delicious samosas served in large cups made from leaves, of puchkas (golgappas / panipuri), of rasgullas served in kulhads (small earthen pot shaped cups) and of course of mishti doi (sweetened thick yogurt).Β Surprisingly, my mother never mentioned ‘bhaja muger dal’, and when I read the recipe, I found it very similar to the mung dal she makes. I always knew it as comfort food for the sick. I remember having it when one of us would catch cold, or had fever. Mung beans are said to be very light as compared to other lentils and more easily digestible. Probably that’s why it largely remained comfort food.

Split mung beans are quick cooking and will easily turn into a mush. This I am guessing is one of the reasons why moong dal is always roasted to a light brown colour before cooking. Roasting makes the lentils very aromatic. A cup of moong dal takes about 8-10 minutes on low heat to turn aromatic. The flavour is nutty. Roasted moong helps the lentils retain some structure even when cooked. Hence the word ‘bhaja’ in the recipe. Bhaja means roasted. One must also be aware that a cup of mung gives a lot of cooked dal, nearly three times.

I hopped over to Sharmila’s blog, ‘Kichu Khonn‘ for the recipe. Sharmila’s site is the first Bong blogger site I visited and she has some lovely Bengali recipes on her blog. The recipe is very much like my mother’s except that mom never used mustard oil in her cooking. I think mustard oil enhances the taste of any dal. I used organic dal and cold pressed oil as always.

Recipe: Bhaja Muger Dal – Roasted mung lentil soup
Yield : Serves 4-5 soup bowlfuls depending on consistency

Ingredients:

Split, husked mung / Moong dhuli – 1 cup.
(Roast in a wok or skillet till aromatic, and lightly browned, about 8-10 mins on low( flame and set aside)
Green chillies, chopped – 1
Ginger, finely chopped – 1 inch
Dry red chillies – 3, halved
Mustard oil (I use cold pressed) / Rai ka tel – 2 tsps.
Cumin seeds / jeera – 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder / haldi – 1/8 tsp.
Red chilli powder – 1/8 tsp. to balance the heat, optional
Rock salt to taste
Water to cook dal

Method:

Cover dal with enough water and cook till the lentils are soft. I used a pressure cooker as I cooked rice and dal at the same time. Just three whistles.

Heat oil and when hot enough, add cumin seeds to splutter. Add dry red chillies and green chillies, frying till the red chillies turn almost black.

Add cooked dal, hot water to thin it to desired consistency and stir. I do not like mushy dal, so my dals have a bit of texture always.

Balance with a bit of turmeric and salt. Taste and add red chilli powder, only if necessary. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice and a dry stir-fry or ‘bhaja’. Β I served with brown rice and a simple okra stir-fry.

My mother made exactly the same, but she would use sunflower oil, asafoetida and curry leaves in the seasoning along with the above.

Veganmofo, Day 5. Live strong, eat well. Eat organic.

23 Comments

Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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23 Comments

  • Shilpa

    Hi! I have been searching the internet, but am unable to find a recipe that I am looking for. Could you please tell me how can I make a soup of this daal? How much water do I add and how much do you strain it? Should I add some of the pulp back to the soup after straining it? Any idea?

    • Harini Prakash

      Hi Shilpa, to make a soup of this, I suggest you omit the oil and tadka. Churn with a ‘mathhna’ to an almost smooth soup. I intuitively add water so am not sure how much water it takes. To cook in a pressure add approximately 1 cup water for 1/2 cup of roasted lentils. This will give you cooked lentils with fully absorbed water. You can add judge and add more hot water after churning so that you will get the consistency you are looking for. I do not strain any of my soups. I just dilute as much as I need and adjust seasoning. You might want to garnish with roasted jeera powder and coriander leaves. Hope this helps.

  • madhulika

    Hi,
    Made this for dinner tonight, came out really well. Didn’t know that roasting the dal could make such a difference in its taste. Awesome recipe Harini πŸ™‚ I am just loving Veg Mofo.

    • Harini

      I am loving Vegan Mofo too! Thanks for the feedback. Roasting does make it very different. πŸ™‚

  • GiGi

    Oooh this seems beautifully aromatic. I have never cooked with mung beans or mustard oil, and I love hearty soups like this and would love to try both ingredients. Great post.

    • Harini

      Mustard oil needs a little ‘getting used to’ but you will love it very soon. πŸ™‚

  • Sharmila

    Gee … thanks Harini! The dal looks even more awesome with your wonderful photography andthe beautiful bowls.
    Feels good to be back on TT. Haven’t been around much and miss those days of blogging and sharing of recipes and thoughts.
    Am getting nostalgic. Hugs. πŸ™‚

    • Harini

      How sweet, Sharmila! Don’t worry. You will be back. Its a matter of time. πŸ™‚ Hugs back!

  • Rithika

    Looks lovely and I’m sure it tastes awesome too! I usually order this and aloo poshto if I eat at a bengali restaurant. I love the mustard hit in bengali food. I’m going to try this one with extra mustard!

    • Harini

      Oh yes! I know you like the mustard kick. πŸ™‚

  • Soma

    Lovely pictures Harini. Most of the times we add green peas and add ginger paste to the daal. During wedding or any social occasion, tiny cauliflower florets are added with the peas too. I can already smell the bhaja mug daal aroma.

    • Harini

      I read about those variations too. Will try it sometime.

  • Anamika @ madcookingfusions

    Mung Lentil soup, I am sure too comforting..I loved the recipe and the bowls in which you served looks FAB :)! Thanks for introducing another great blogger…

  • Richa

    i love those containersss! happy mofo weekend!

    • Harini

      Thanks! Have a great weekend too, Richa. πŸ™‚

  • Sarah (appifanie)

    This looks amazing. Love dal soup!

  • Annie

    This looks and sounds lovely – and comforting. Beautiful photos!

  • Vijitha

    Simple yet such a warm comfort food. I pair my daal with chopped avocados. I like to drink it as soup. Gorgeous clicks as well. Your prop is so pretty. I have to check Fab India next time I am in Chennai.

    • Harini

      Good idea with the avocados, Vijitha. Fab India has lovely stuff. Only they keep changing them too often!

  • Susmitha - Veganosaurus

    Another delicious and wholesome recipe from you, Harini. Moong is my favourite among all dals. It’s just so creamy, comforting and satisfying. I should try making it with mustard oil next time. Looks yum! πŸ™‚

    • Harini

      Mustard oil makes the whole thing come together, Susmitha. I use it for most of my dals. The cold pressed ones are even better as they do not have the typical pungent smell.

    • Arundhati Biswas

      Normally in Bhaja mooger dal you have to add atleast one tsp sugar,not to make it sweet but to balance the taste.

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