Typically, Indian lentils bring to mind something a little heavy, creamy and hearty. This dish is the absolute opposite of that – light, tangy and refreshing. Growing up dal was not my favorite (sacrilege considering I grew up in an Indian vegetarian home) but whenever my mother made moong dal chaat I would willingly gobble it up. Another bonus - this dish can come together in 30 minutes if you use a pressure cooker. You can also do it on the stove top in a dutch oven and it still comes together in under an hour.
Moong dal chaat was inspired by a dish served on the streets in Rajinder Nagar in Old Delhi and my mother learned to make it from her paternal uncle. Small, oval shaped, yellow lentils called moong are used here. The dal and rice are comforting and soft, the chaat masala (Indian spice blend that is sour and tangy) and lemon juice add bright acidity, the veggies give you much needed crunch and freshness and lastly the roasted cumin powder gives a slight smoky flavor. One taste and you will realize that this is one of those dishes you will be making again and again. —Shveta Berry
Roasted Cumin Powder
Yello Lentil Rice Salad
split mung beans (moong dal)
1 1/4 teaspoons
English Cucumber, cut into small dice
medium tomatoes, cut into small dice
red onion, finely chopped
jalapeno, finely chopped (seeds and membranes removed if you don't want it too hot)
Roast cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat until it turns a shade darker and starts to smoke slightly – 5-7 minutes.
Let the seeds cool slightly and then crush in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. It keeps well for up to a month - even longer really but the smoky flavor will start to fade. This powder is used often in salty lassi (refreshing Indian yogurt drink) and would also be smashing in a good, old American chili.
Yello Lentil Rice Salad
Put the lentils in a small bowl and cover with water. Run your hands through the lentils and then dump out the water. Rinse in this way another 3 times.
Put the rinsed lentils in your pressure cooker and add water, salt and turmeric.
Put the lid on the cooker and turn the heat on to high. As soon as the pressure cooker sounds, turn the gas off and let the cooker return to normal pressure covered. Your dal is ready!
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can also cook the lentils on the stove top. Just simmer for 30-40 minutes in a dutch oven until the lentils are totally tender.
To assemble – ladle about a cup of lentils on your plate. Sprinkle with chaat masala and crushed roasted cumin. Also sprinkle over the juice of 1/4 of the lemon
Next layer on the onion, tomatoes, cucumber and jalepeno. This is all to taste to so add more of what you love and leave off anything you don’t care for.
Lastly top with a thin layer of rice and sprinkling of fresh cilantro.