Mark Bittman’s Dal Inspiration

When I saw Mark Bittman’s most recent Minimalist article earlier this week I was instantly inspired to start making dal. If you haven’t already, read this now to learn how to “elevate simple legumes, just enough.” I have a lot of jars of dried goods on my kitchen shelves. I think that the fuller my shelves are with food, the safer I feel, so I always buy too much food. Recently I have been troubled by what to do with an overstock of various kinds of dried beans and lentils. Bittman came to the rescue, and now that jar that was full of mung beans is empty and I want more. I had never tried cooking mung beans before, I had always just used my mung beans to make sprouts out of. I’ll never make that mistake again; cooked mung beans are the best. This dal is rich enough to be a full meal if you want it to be. I served it over brown rice with fresh rolls. Coconut with apples, ginger, lime, fresh mint, scallions, and turmeric is a flavor combination I never would have come up with on my own, and I love it. This dal is New England winter comfort food that just got caught up in a strong gust of fresh sweet Indian breezes. I recommend that you go catch that breeze and make this for dinner as soon as you can…  

I adapted Bittman’s recipe slightly to make my dal serve 3, and I forgot and or changed a couple things from his recipe along the way (forgot the shredded coconut, somehow thought there should be an onion…) and my “tarka” wasn’t really a tarka after all. I can tell you that my recipe worked and was delicious, but the original recipe probably works wonders as well, so go ahead and take your pick. Bittman’s original recipe is right here.  
Coconut Milk and Apple Mung Bean Dal
Serves 3

1 cup dried mung beans, washed and picked over

1 large apple (any kind will do), cored, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, combine the beans, apples and coconut milk and bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat down to medium-low so mixture bubbles steadily but not violently. 
Cook, stirring occasionally and adding water now and then so that the beans are always covered in liquid, until beans are quite soft and there is a thick but not runny sauce, about an hour. 
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until it melts and is foamy, then add onion, ginger, turmeric, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until onions are soft and golden, about 10 min. 
Add the scallions, mint, and lime juice to the onion mixture and cook for a minute or two more, then stir it into the pot of beans. 
Season with salt and pepper to taste.