Moong Dal: Vegetarian Indian Yellow Lentil Dhal

Moong Dal: Vegetarian Indian Yellow Lentil Dhal

The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
138 Calories
8g Fat
13g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 138
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 601mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 5mg 24%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 275mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Enjoy this flavorful vegetarian and vegan Indian food recipe of mung dal. Mung dal, sometimes spelled "moong dal," or Indian-flavored yellow lentils, are a traditional vegetarian Indian recipe. This easy version of mung dhal soup simmers the dal in vegetable broth, turmeric, and cayenne for a spicy and flavorful—yet simple—vegetarian Indian lentil dal dish.

Cooking With Moong Dal Lentils

Moong dal lentils are much quicker to cook from scratch than beans—and even regular lentils, due to their tiny size. As an added benefit, lentils are ridiculously cheap (you can usually buy them in the bulk foods section) and are a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Yellow lentil dal isn't quite a full meal on its own, but it can be a light dinner when paired with steamed white rice (or another whole grain, if you prefer). You can store the leftovers in individual serving-sized containers to take into the office to heat up for lunch, paired with a small green salad instead of rice. 

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free (check your ingredients to be 100 percent sure, particularly the vegetable broth and spices). If you do not want to use olive oil, feel free to coat the pan with nonstick spray instead.


  • 1 cup mung dal

  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • Dash cayenne pepper, or more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 2 whole cloves

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Moong Dal: Vegetarian Indian Yellow Lentil Dhal ingredients

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  2. In a large soup or stock pan, combine mung dal or yellow lentils, vegetable broth, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Bring to a slow simmer.

    combine the mung dal or yellow lentils, vegetable broth, turmeric, cayenne, and salt in a pot

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  3. Cover partially with a lid and allow to cook for at least 20 minutes, and up to 30 to 40 minutes if you prefer a smoother dal. You can add a bit more liquid if needed.

    spices cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  4. In a separate skillet, saute onion, cumin seeds, and clove in olive oil for just a few minutes over medium heat, until onions are soft.

    onions and spices cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

  5. Add onions and spices to mung dal or lentils and allow to simmer for a few more minutes, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle with a dash of black pepper and add extra salt to taste, if needed. Serve plain, as soup, or over rice.

    Moong Dal: Vegetarian Indian Yellow Lentil Dhal in a pot

    The Spruce / Preethi Venkatram

Dal tends to thicken up a bit as it cools, so you may want to add a bit more water if you are planning on having leftovers. However, personal preference also plays a role in how thin or how thick you prefer your dal to be. It's always easy to add more liquid.