Mag nu shaak is Gujarati style whole moong bean dal. A healthy nutrients packed, no onion no garlic moong bean curry or a dal. Moong beans are cooked and then simmered in tadka made with green chilies, asafetida and a few other basic tempering ingredients.
Moong is mag in Gujarati. In many Gujarati households mag is a staple and also mandatory on Wednesdays. Some even consider it auspicious to prepare something with these beans. For me, it is the nutrition that takes me back to these beans.
In our home, we use split moong/mung/green gram dal a lot in cooking and whole mung is usually for sprouts and gudalu. Gudalu are prepared similar to sauteed valor lilva. We also use whole moong or unhusked moong dal for pesaru garelu (moong vada) and pesarattu (moong dosa).
Why this recipe?
Most often prepared dal at home is moong dal with lime and pappu kattu without lime. Both the preparations are similar but with or without tomatoes and lime. It is light, healthy, nutritious and tasty as well. Moong dal is usually husked and we lose the fiber that is in the skin.
When Vaishali posted the recipe for Gujarati mag, I was curious to try it for it's nutritional benefits. Besides the nutrition, it is a simple dal with no onion, no garlic and no tomato. I love both onion and garlic but was curious to try. I am glad I did!
Second, these days we tend to add tomatoes to pretty much everything, and this Gujarati mag nu shaak reminds me the rustic style of cooking without tomatoes. Then the ease and simplicity of the dal is another factor that attracts me to it.
The only time consuming part of the preparation is soaking moong beans. Un-soaked moong takes longer to cook. But when pressed for time, cook moong directly in an electric pressure cooker and skip the soaking step.
Once the dal is cooked, rest of the preparation is a breeze. The first time I made moong mag was for Gujarati thali. Viashali's recipe is from her Gujarati friend, so I stick to the recipe and I make it quite often. Sometimes I also tweak the recipe.
The tweaked recipe is similar to any South India dal with onion, garlic and tomatoes. Sauté these in the tempering and add to cooked dal. Some Gujarati mag recipes online do call for onion and tomatoes.
Iron Rich Food
Mung beans are a power house of nutrients; rich in vitamins and minerals. Besides folate, protein, fiber and few other nutrients, it is also rich in iron. One cup of cooked mung beans has 16% recommended daily intake of iron.
A-Z iron rich food is a series where I post a recipe with an iron rich ingredient, for each alphabet. For alphabet 'M' it is moong or mung beans. Here are a few recipes from the series.
- Moong Beans - Use whole moong for this recipe and soak for at least 2-3 hours before cooking. When pressed for time, cook directly and it takes 5- 8 minutes longer in an electric pressure cooker.
- Fat - Use both oil and butter for best taste. Just a teaspoon or 2 of butter goes a long way.
- Chilies - Green chili is the main ingredient to spice mag. Though you can use both red and green chilies, I use red chili mostly for garnish.
- Garam Masala - Second ingredient for spicing mag is garam masala. Use both whole garam masala and garam masala powder. Rajwadi garam masala powder is recommended but I use whichever masala I have on hand. It is usually Rajah brand garam masala.
- Ginger - Use finely chopped ginger. Sometimes I use paste too but chopped ginger is better.
- Lime Juice - to give the shaak some tang. You can also use some tomatoes along with lime juice.
- Tempering - Mustard seeds, cumin, cloves, cinnamon stick, curry leaves & coriander powder.
- Jaggery - I skip this as we do not like sweet in curries and dal. But a small piece balances the spice in the mag.
Step by Step Instructions
Cook green gram in an electric pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot (IP) or a stovetop pressure cooker. Preparation involves three steps, cook the beans, prepare tadka (seasoning) and then simmer the dal along with the tadka in the pressure cooker.
Another option is cook beans in a pressure cooker, prepare the tadka in a saucepan, transfer cooked beans to the saucepan and simmer until done. Step by step pictures are for Gujarati mag, Instant Pot recipe.
Soak whole moong for 2-3 hours (pic #1 in the collage) and then pressure cook the beans along with cumin and oil (#2). In Indian pressure cooker I cook for 5 whistles and in Instant Pot (IP), 4 or 5 minutes in manual (#3) and release pressure naturally (#4).
Heat oil and/or ghee in a small pan and add whole spices (#5). When spices are toasted, add green chilies, curry leaves, ginger and hing (#6). When these roast, add red chili and rest of the spices (#7), and mix well. Keep aside some tadka for garnish (#8).
Pour rest of the tadka into inner pot of IP (#9), pour water as needed (#10), add salt to taste (#11) and simmer for few minutes. When the dal reaches desired consistency, unplug the pot and squeeze lime juice (#12), mix well and serve.
How to serve
Serve Gujarati style moong curry or dal with rice or roti with some onions and lemon/lime wedges on the side.
Store leftovers in the refrigerate and reheat in the microwave before serving. Alternative is to reheat on a stovetop and if the dal becomes too thick, add some water and simmer for few minutes.
- Use onion, garlic and tomato for a variation. One method is to cook onion and tomatoes along with moong beans and the second is to saute these in oil when preparing the tempering. Use garlic in the tempering.
- Recommend soaking moong beans for at least 2-3 hours.
- When using an IP, turn of the IP once the pressure releases naturally or once the cook cycle is complete. Remove the inner pot and keep it aside. Otherwise it goes to 'Keep Warm' setting beans will continue to cook and beans could become mushy.
- Cook beans just until soft but firm.
Cook un-soaked moong beans 8 for minutes in an electric pressure cooker on manual or pressure cook setting and release pressure naturally. This usually works, but sometimes stubborn batch of moong takes 10 minutes.
Moong Bean Dal
- 1 Bowl to soak dal
- 1 3 qt Instant Pot or a stovetop pressure cooker
- 1 Small pan for tadka
- Knife & Cutting Board
- ½ cup Moong Beans soaked for 2-3 hours
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- 1 teaspoon Ghee ~ Clarified Butter I used unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin
- ¼ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 2 Clove
- 2 Cardamom optional, I added by mistake in the video & step by step pics
- ½ inch Cinnamon Stick
- 4 - 5 small Green Chilies I used 5 and adjust to heat tolerance level
- ½ inch Ginger chopped or 1 teaspoon chopped Ginger
- ¼ teaspoon Hing ~ Asafetida
- ½ teaspoon Coriander Powder ~ Dhania Powder
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon Rajwadi Garam Masala or garam masala of your choice. Start with ¼ teaspoon and add more to taste.
- ¾ teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- 1-2 teaspoon Lime Juice
- Small piece of Jaggery I do not
Prepare & Cook Moong Beans
- Soak moong for 2-3 hours.
- Wash moong beans and cook in a pressure cooker with 1 cup of water. Check notes for cooking un-soaked beans.
- In Instant Pot (IP), 4 or 5 minutes on manual/pressure cook setting. In Indian stovetop pressure cooker, cook for 5 whistles. Let pressure release naturally.
- Once the pressure drops, open the lid right and/or remove the inner pot from IP and keep aside. Otherwise, beans will continue to cook and become too soft. Beans should be soft but firm.
- Heat butter and oil in a pan for tadka.
- When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, cumin, clove, cardamom (opt), cinnamon stick and let the seeds crack.
- Immediate add green chilies, chopped ginger and hing. Let ginger roast until raw smell is gone. You can also add a red chili for some heat and flavor.
- Add coriander powder, garam masala and turmeric and mix well.
- Keep aside little bit of tempering for garnish.
Put it Together
- Add tadka to cooked beans. If you prepared tadka in a saucepan, add moong beans to the tempering.
- Give a good stir, add salt, about 1 cup water or as required.
- Stir, cover and bring to a boil and simmer for few minutes until spices blend in and reaches desired consistency.
- Mind you, mag thickens as it cools. It should not have too much gravy and at the same time, it should not be very dry either.
- Add jaggery if using and lime juice. Stir and turn off the heat.
- Serve with rice or roti or any Indian flat bread.
- Cooking Moong - In Instant Pot, cook soaked beans for 4-5 minutes. I usually do 4 minutes but certain batch of moong takes 5 minutes. I would recommend 4 minutes. For un-soaked beans 8 minutes usually works but sometimes stubborn batch of moong takes 10 minutes.
- In Instant Pot, once pressure drops, remove the inner pot and keep it aside. Leaving it in the IP, beans will continue to cook from the steam and the hot plate.
- If the beans is under cooked, simmer it a little longer when you bring the mag to boil after adding the tadka in "Put it Together" step.
- Spice & Heat Level - Adjust green chilies and garam masala to your heat tolerance level.
- Ginger - You can use ginger paste but I highly recommend chopped ginger in this recipe.
- Second Tempering - For additional flavor, temper 1 red chili and few curry leaves in little oil and pour over mag before serving. I normally keep aside some tempering before adding to cooked moong to skip second tempering. That is lazy me!!
- Variation - Few Gujarati mag recipes online call for tomatoes. If using tomatoes, cook in the tadka until soft. Then combine tadka and cooked moong, and follow rest of the recipe.
- Addition of tomatoes gives the mag a tangy flavor.
- Onion Garlic - This is a no onion garlic recipe. If you do not have any dietary restrictions, saute onions and crushed garlic in tadka.
- Nutrition - Values listed are approximate calculation.
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This post was originally published in Jan 2017. It is republished with new content and images.