Oil-Free Indian Moong Dal Fry


Medium |  Servings: 6  |  Ready In: 60 minutes |  Yield: 6 cups

Moong Dal Fry is a classic Indian dish.  It starts with cooked lentils then flavors them with an aromatic mix of onion, ginger, tomatoes, and spices.  Traditionally fried in ghee, this vegan, oil-free version is healthy and lighter.  You’ll love the smells and colors of this satisfying recipe.  Enjoy over steamed Basmati rice, top with Dill Avocado Dip or serve with Whole Wheat Flatbread.


For cooking the Moong Dal Lentils:

For making the Oil-Free Moong Dal Fry:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small Indian green chilies, chopped
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Methi powder (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish

How it’s Done:

To cook the Moong Dal Lentils: Cover the lentils with a few inches of water and soak 20-30 minutes (or overnight).  Use a fine-mesh colander, to drain and rinse the lentils until there is no foam. 

Place the lentils in small pot and cover with the 5 cups of water.  Add the turmeric.  Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.  Simmer until the lentil fall apart, about 30 to 45 minutes.  Use a spoon to mash the moong dal lentils.  Add water, if needed to get the desired consistency.  It should look a little thinner than mashed potatoes.

To make the Oil-Free Moon Dal Fry: In a medium, dry pan, toast the cumin seeds until they start to crackle, about 1-2 minutes, stirring often.  Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato, green chilies, and red chilies. Cover and cook until the tomato softens, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the ginger, asafoetida, turmeric, mustard seeds, Methi powder, Garam masala, and garlic.  Cook until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the cooked Moong Dal Lentils. Cook over medium heat until the lentils are infused with the spiced onion mixture, about 5 minutes.  Add more water, as needed, to reach a thick porridge-like consistency.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Enjoy over steamed Basmati rice, top with Dill Avocado Dip or serve with Whole Wheat Flatbread.

Oil-Free Indian Moong Dal Fry – Healthy, Plant-Based, Gluten-Free, Spicy, Lentil, Vegan Recipe

Chef Katie’s Tips

Get the “Split”:  Split lentils break down into a creamy consistency when cooked.  Whole lentils will take longer to cook, so be sure to get the split ones.

Pressure Cooker or Instapot:  You can speed up this recipe by cooking the lentils in a pressure cooker or Instapot.  First, sauté the onion and spices mixture in the Instapot.  Add the lentils and water.  Set to “Beans” or “Hi” for 5 to 10 minutes.  When the cooking is done, release the pressure.  Remove the lid and use a spoon to mash the lentils.  There is no need to pre-cook the lentils using this method.  It’s still a good idea to pre-soak the lentils for easier digestion.

Garam Masala?  Garam Masala” roughly translates to “hot mixture of spices”.  It is much like curry powder in that it blends sweet and savory with ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and black pepper.  Unlike curry powder, there is no turmeric, which explains why Garam Masala is never the bright yellow that Curry spice mixes will be.

Freezer-Friendly:  This recipe holds up great in the freezer.  Make a big batch and freeze extras for healthy, meals later.

More than Just Soup: Dal is more than just a soup.  I love using this recipe as a warm sauce.  I’ll pour it over baked red potatoes, grilled vegetables and rice, or just over a quick chickpea salad.

Learn More about Indian Ingredients:

Nutrition Fact

Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 214
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2 g 3 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 32 mg 1 %
Potassium 206 mg 6 %
Total Carbohydrate 38 g 13 %
Dietary Fiber 7 g 27 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 14 g 29 %
Vitamin A 8 %
Vitamin C 20 %
Calcium 6 %
Iron 26 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Shopping and Gear List

  • Swad Moong Dal Beans, Split, 4 Pound
  • Shudh India Heeng Powder, Hing Powder, Asafoetida Powder
  • Just Jaivik 100% Organic Fenugreek Powder- 0.5 LB/227g/08 oz- USDA Certified Organic – Trigonella Foenum Powder- Methi Powder
  • Frontier Garam Masala Certified Organic, Salt Free Blend, 2-Ounce Bottle


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