Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Ton Of Protein # 4 - Moong Dal Usli

Moong Dal Usli

Ayurveda, as much as I have read about it, rates Moong Dal the highest amongst all lentils. Perhaps because it is the easiest to digest, and Ayurveda insists that foods be easy to digest. I don't know about other foods, but I am sure Moong Dal should be rather easy on the stomach, because in Maharashtrian households, a Khichdi made of rice and Moong Dal (Mugachya Daalichi Khichadi) is served to people when they are ill and later when they are still recovering.

Apart from the digestibility, I feel, that Moong beans and the dal are also quite versatile. They can be used in all possible forms and in all possible dishes. Sample this. Moong beans can be used as is, or after sprouting; the Dal can be used with the skin still on it (Moong Dal Chhilka) and without. Moreoever, the skinless Dal can be used to cook Dal, in Khichdis, as a thickening agent in soups, as a fried snack and in desserts too. The rich Moong Dal Halwa of North India is quite famous. Equally rich with ghee and coveted amongst Maharashtrians is the Mugachya daalicha Shira. More on that sometime later perhaps.

What I am writing about today is a Konkani breakfast dish, the Muga Daali Usli. Having this kind of a dish for breakfast was totally new to me when I got married. I was curious but also slightly apprehensive of having a Bhaji-like thing with bread early in the morning. Of course, being born and having grown up in a Maharashtrian family, I was hesitant to do a lot many things once a part of a Mangalorean Konkani family. Like eating coconut oil. It gave me a feeling in the beginning as though I were eating hair. I know it sounds gross, but my only association of coconut oil was with hair. But I am totally comfortable eating it now. I mean coconut oil. Anyway, more on that sometime later.

Coming back to the Moong Dal Usli, I totally love it now and it's on my breakfast menu quite often. It was earlier eaten with roasted puffed rice (Churmure in Marathi/Murmura in Hindi). However, it has become a common practise to have the Usli with white sliced bread now, maybe for the sake of convenience? I am actually a wholemeal bread freak, but I have noticed that this particular dish pairs better with white bread. Ayurveda will never approve of it, but there you go. :)

So, here goes the recipe for Moong Daal Usli

Serves 2 (hungry persons after a whole night's fast!).


1 heaped cup Moong/Green gram Dal
2 ½ cups water
2 tsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
7-8 curry leaves (I used 12-15 because I used dried curry leaves)
3 green chillis (3 red chillis can also be used once in a while for a change)
salt to taste

½ inch piece ginger
a handful coriander leaves (or to taste)

At the base: Moong Dal; On the base (clockwise from top): dried curry leaves, fresh coriander leaves, green chillis; In the centre: ginger


1. Wash the Moong Dal and keep aside.

2. Make a slit in the green chillis, making sure not to cut them in two. In case using red chillis, break them in 2-3 pieces each.

3. Chop the ginger in tiny pieces. Chop the coriander leaves. Set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a pan. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the curry leaves and chillis.

5. After about two seconds, add the water. Stir in salt.

6. Bring it to a boil, then add the washed Moong dal. The water will 'jump' high at this point. Take care not to burn yourself.

7. Reduce the heat to 'medium' and let it continue boiling gently. Do not cover the pan yet, or else the water will boil over.

8. Once the water is the same level as the Dal, cover the pan, but leave a gap for the steam to escape.

9. Stir the mixture every now and then, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan. The Dal can easily stick to the bottom.

10. The Usli is cooked, when the Dal is soft to touch (can be pressed easily with two fingers), and all the water is absorbed. It is ok, if the Dal looks somewhat mushy, that is how it is supposed to look - with half the grains still retaining their form and half of them mushy.

11. Add the chopped ginger and coriander leaves now, stir the Usli and cover the pan tightly for about five minutes for the ginger to release its aroma into the Usli.

12. Serve hot with some bread and a fruit juice for a tasty and satisfying breakfast.

Moong Dal Usli served with white sliced bread

Have this breakfast, and you'll be ready to face the day with a smile!

Jihva for ingredients


Vineela said...

Hi Vaishali,
My mom also mak ethsi with green gram dal.Its healthy too.
Nice idea to have this usili with bread.Interesting write up.

tony said...

I have never tried this out... Thanks for sharing... Now I can try this out.. Can i use any other daal???

Nandan said...

Good one to try for break-fast. Healthy and simple to make. How much time will it take to boil the daal properly?

Vaishali said...

Vineela, does your mom make this the same way or is it slightly different. I would love to know about variations in this dish.

Tony, good that you came around. I was anyway going to send this to you as my entry for the next Curry Mela. A little too early, but no harm in it, is there? As for your question, this Usli can be prepared with Chana Dal too.

Nandan, after the dal is added to the boiling water, it takes about 15-20 minutes for it to be ready to be served. It's not really a quick-to-make breakfast dish, but the taste makes you forget the time spent in making it. I must mention here that pressure-cooking does not help in making this dish quicker. You just end up with cooked dal then.

shammi said...

Vaishali, I think that what we South Indians call "usili" and what you've made differ somewhat :) But I love both versions!

Ashwini said...

Its one of my fave breakkies too. When I was down with jaundice waaay back when, this was the only dish I could tolerate for a while. Luckily the love lasted after I recovered too :-)

Vaishali said...

Shammi, what kind of a preparation do you call Usili? In Konkani cuisine, what I have seen of it, 'Usli' is usually a dry preparation. However, there aren't too many dishes in the Usli catagory.

Ashwini, hey, thanks for sharing that. It would have been a pity, if your illness had left a dislike for this dish in you. I am glad that it didn't. Btw, did you see the Usli even 'yellower', when you had jaundice? Just asking. :) :)

Sumitha said...

we too make a similar curry using moon dal,except that we add grinded coconut paste with some spices.

Anonymous said...

nice intro to moong daal... did not know the Ayurveda facts about them.. i love this item especially when the daal is very soft and pasty!
- ThOriAn

shilpa said...

I have tasted it before. Its awesome :). Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Vaishali said...

Sumitha, please blog about it sometime, so that I know what kind of a curry you make with Moong Dal.

TheOriAn, thanks.

Shilpa, it is awesome, isn't it?

Menu Today said...

Nice combination with bread.I like usili very much.

Neelu said...

As usual its my ajjis pet recipe :), she adds garlic and fresh coconut in addition to this, n its tastes wonderful with jowar bhakri

Neelu said...

Hey I forgot to mention onion :) , method : onions shallow fry + hirwa watan (ginger garlic paste , greenchillies paste + fres hcoconut), after its done then she adds pre soaked moong daal n then cook till done

Vaishali said...

MT, do you want to come over for a helping then? :)

Neelu, your ajji's recipe sounds top-class. I will definitely try it out for evening snack some day. My husband and I have big problems with having garlic in the morning. We are rather finicky, aren't we? Anyway, thanks for sharing your granny's recipe here.

Vishal said...

Nice pages of recipe. The Moong dal chi usal mi banavali ani chan zali! Dhanyawad! Vishesh mhanje tumhi photo lavlet te khup chan kele!

Devayani said...

Mung according to Ayurved equalizes Tridoshas (Kafa, vaata, pitta). When you are unwell, one of the doshas is unbalanced. Various foods balance or agravate various doshas but Mung is different and most desirable because it acts favourably on all 3doshas. It is the most easily digestable among all the Daals and beans.

Also, it has the highest protein among all of the Daals Indians use :)

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