This smoky Sri Lankan Mung lentil curry recipe with a dash of Ceylon Cinnamon is absolutely exotic. So simple to make and healthy. Also called Mung dhal the trick to this fabulous tasting dish is the simple pan roasting of the lentils prior to cooking.
That and the subtle addition of Ceylon Cinnamon which never takes center stage but creates a complex flavor profile. The use of chili is in moderation, but is a must for the flavor as is the coconut milk. Works well with rice, a meat dish and a nice green salad. Use any left over the next to day to spread on toasted bread. Makes a lovely breakfast.
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cook Time : 50 minutes
Serves : 3-4 people
- 1 cup yellow mung dhal (lentils)
- 2.5 cups of water 1 medium onion chopped (divided into two parts)
- 1 (3 inch) piece of Ceylon cinnamon stick split into two
1 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon powder split into 1/2 tsp's)
- 1-2 green chilies sliced with the seeds removed
- 15-20 curry leaves (divided into two parts)
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp. red chili powder to taste
- salt to taste
- 5 oz. of coconut milk (small can)
- 2-3 whole red dried chili pods
- Pan Roast - Add dry mung lentils to a heated pan and roast for 8 minutes on medium heat. No need to add any oil. Just a warm pan on medium heat. Stir frequently to ensure the mung beans do not burn but brown instead. You will notice a lovely fragrant aroma as you do this.
- Rinse in water - Empty roasted mung lentils into a pan and rinse with cold water. The process requires you to drain and rinse the lentil in cold water about 3-4 times until the water is clean.
- Add the ingreidents to pan - Add 2.5 cups of water into the pan of washed lentils. Then add half of the fineley chopped curry leaves and onion, turmeric, half a 3 inch cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon powder) red chili powder and all the green chilies.
- Cook - Place on high heat and turn down to medium when it starts to boil. Cook with lid closed for 25 minutes. This will ensure that the mung lentils cook properly. Cook until the water is nearly gone and the lentils are soft. Stir the lentils from time to time to ensure it cooks evenly .
- Temper the other ingredients - This process is called tempering and really adds to the flavor. While the lentils are cooking, heat 1 tbs. of vegetable oil in a separate pan, add the remaining onions, curry leaves, half a 3 inch Ceylon cinnamon stick (or half a tsp. Ceylon cinnamon powder) and broken chili pods. Sauté on medium heat until the onions start to brown and set aside.
- Final touch - When the Mung lentils have cooked add the tempered onion mixture plus the coconut milk and salt to taste. Simmer for 25 minutes on low heat and serve with rice, vegetables and some meat.
NOTES : You can use 1 tsp of Ceylon Cinnamon powder instead of the sticks for excellent fiber content. If you use ordinary cinnamon, the taste will be very different with an overt spicy cinnamon taste that will ruin the dish.
ABOUT MUNG DAL
Dal moong is known by many names, including mung daal, yellow mung daal, and mung dahl. Dal moong is a yellow lentil that has been split and husked. Once de-skinned, the dal moong is yellow in color and has a flat oval shape. It is a very popular ingredient in East Indian cuisine for its versatility, nutritional benefits, and taste.
A word of caution however. Most split mung beans have FD&C Yellow no.5 added. Avoid this. Even in Indian stores, they add color although they do not tell you this. It is best to get USDA organic organic moong dal like from this online store
WHY CEYLON CINNAMON
Unlike ordinary Cassia Cinnamon you find in the stores, Ceylon Cinnamon has low Coumarin levels, so it won't damage your liver, especially if you are a regular Cinnamon tea drinker. Besides Ceylon Cinnamon is mild, yet slightly sweeter. It's not spicy like store bought Cassia Cinnamon, but has hints of cloves and citrus with wonderful subtle aroma.
Ceylon Cinnamon is subtle and adds to create a more complex flavors. You would never know there is Ceylon Cinnamon in this dish, unlike Cassia Cinnamon which tends to be harsh and immediately makes its presence felt and often ruins the recipe