Sunday, 13 December 2009

Spring and chilly in the same sentence

Yes, if you are referring to spring onions and the red chilli pepper which are two ingredients I used to make some tarka mung (moong) bean dal. Tarka is simply a seasoned and flavoured oil. It is a technique used in South Asian cuisine where spices are added to melted ghee, butter or very hot oil. When the spice seeds are added to the hot oil, they sizzle and pop a little bringing out the spices intense flavour and aroma. Tarka can be done either at the beginning of a recipe, and then the other ingredients are added to it; or it can be done after the dish is cooked. The Tarka - the intense flavoured oil along with the spices are poured over the dish and stirred well, which is the way I do it.
I had lifted these 'scarlet' spring onions from the plot early in the week. I had somehow mistakenly planted them amongst the leeks. Well you can understand why, they are thin and long like the leek.

Spring onions are also known a scallion, salad onion or green onion and are related to the Allium family, the others are garlic, leeks, shallots and chives. The top green part is hollow and the bottom small root bulb. Spring onions are milder than most onions and can used raw, as a part of salads or cooked. One of the great things about the spring onion is that it is available all year round, its not one of those vegetables that has a specific season, however saying that the youngest and most tender are found in the spring and early summer. Spring onions are also a good source of vitamins B and C, fibre and folate.

In this recipe for tarka mung bean dal, for a change I am using spring onions in place of small white onions.
Just in case your wondering, the scarlet spring onions don't taste any different to the plain white versions, they just look a bit more fancier.

I am submitting this recipe to Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska who is hosting this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging#213. WHB is a weekly food blog event showcases information and recipes about herbs, vegetables, fruits and other plant ingredients. WHB was initiated 4 years ago by Kalyn's Kitchen, it is now organized by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once.
Tarka Mung Bean Dal
Serves 4
180g - 200g of whole mung beans
3 pints of water or vegetable stock
100g butter or 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 knob of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
1 teaspoon of freshly ground cumin
2 dried red chillies, sliced
4 - 6 spring onions, sliced
Salt to taste
For the mung beans
Put the mung beans and stock into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Then turn down to a simmer so that it just bubbles, until the beans are cooked. This should take about 40 minutes.
For the Tarka
Put the butter or oil in a frying pan and heat, until hot. Add garlic, ginger and white parts of spring onions, stir constantly until golden and slightly crisp, then add in the cumin and chillies until fragrant, then add in the greens of the spring onion and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add the tarka to the cooked mung beans, salt to taste, stir well and heat through before serving.


  1. Oh! This soup looks and sounds so wonderful! I believe these are the same kind of mung beans I use to make dessert when I was in Thailand, I call it "green mung beans". I boiled them with water until tender, then added sugar and enjoy as a dessert! Your recipe sounds so healthy and delicious, I'll definitely give it a try:)

  2. Have to try this one - thanks!

  3. This looks like such a hearty and wonderfully warm dish!

  4. Yes, Oraphan, I think they are the same. I have never had mung beans as a dessert, so may have to try it out one-day.

    Thanks Kate.

  5. Thanks Christine. It is certainly flavourful.

  6. Very interesting. I haven't heard about tarka before this. This sounds like it would be very tasty!

  7. It might go under a differnt name Kalyn, but it is an old Indian technique that really enhances the flavour of any home-made dal.

  8. I love the dhal and your photos!


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