Growing up in India, I remember having yellow split moong lentil in many different forms—moong dal (soup), moong barfi (bar), moong khichri (lentil and rice dish), and moong crepes. But I never had moong lentil in salad before that surprise-filled April day a few years ago. The venue was not a restaurant or a family/friend’s table. This Mango-Moong salad was on the dining menu in the first class cabin of Lufthansa. The surprise was two-fold. First, getting an upgrade to the first class; second, finding MANGO, my favorite fruit, in a moong lentil concoction I never had before. That salad got etched into my memory. And a few trials later, I came up with this healthy, yummy herb-infused carrot, mango, and moong lentil salad.
I made a few changes to the recipe I had on the plane. I added carrots to increase the veggie factor and included mint as I find the mango and mint combination irresistible. This salad is quite versatile. You can either enjoy this salad on a bed of your favorite greens as a light lunch or have it as a side dish with veggies or soup. Here is how to make it:
Soak moong lentils for at least six hours, preferably overnight; drain and rinse under running water. Combine the lentils in a pan with water, salt, and a little turmeric. Use just enough water to cover the lentils. Using turmeric is totally optional; I use it to accentuate the yellow color of moong lentils. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. A layer of foam forms in the pan. I usually skim the foam, a trick I learned observing my grandmother doing the same.
Check the lentils once the liquid has almost evaporated. For this salad, lentils should be al dente i.e. should be slightly firm to the bite but cooked through. Drain the cooked lentils in a fine-mesh colander and rinse with cold water and bring to room temperature before adding other ingredients. You can also prepare the lentils a day in advance and store in refrigerator.
Grate carrots. Cut mango in small cubes. Please make sure that the mango is ripe and firm but not overripe. An overripe mango shows up too sugary and tends to subdue other flavors. Finely chop cilantro (fresh coriander) and mint.
Add carrots, mango, chopped herbs, and roasted ground cumin to cooked lentils. Stir the salad with a fork and a spoon to mix well. Don’t over mix as mango may start to disintegrate. I have not tried it, but you could also use cucumber instead of carrots. Cucumber tends to sweat a lot after adding salt. Therefore, remember to eat the salad immediately after adding cucumber and dressing.
To make lemon-garlic dressing– add lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir and mix well with the other salad ingredients. Before serving, cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 20-30 minutes to meld flavors. I usually don’t store this salad in refrigerator. However, if I plan to make the salad twice in a week, I prepare two batches of moong lentils and store in refrigerator for 4-5 days. It is super quick to add carrots, mango, spices, and dressing to recreate this salad. Enjoy.
Herb-infused Carrot, Mango, & Moong Lentil Salad
For the dressing
- 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1.5 tsp maple syrup (can sub with honey)
- 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic (minced)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper*** (can sub with red chili power)
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar (can sub with white vinegar, optional)
For the salad
- 1 cup yellow, split moong lentils* (without skin, dry)
- 1 cup (98g) carrots ( 1 large carrot, grated)
- 1/2 cup (83g) mango (cubed)
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
- 1.5 tbsp fresh mint (finely chopped)
- 1.5 tsp roasted ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt **
- 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
To make the dressing
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a fork.
To make the salad
- Soak yellow moong lentils for at least six hours. Lentils double in volume after soaking. Drain and rinse under running water.
- In a medium pan, bring lentils, salt, and turmeric to a boil with 3/4 cup of water on medium heat. Skim the foam and continue to simmer till lentils are al dente, i.e. firm to the bite but cooked through. Drain in a fine-mesh calendar and rinse with cold water.
- Bring lentils to room temperature and place in a bowl. Add grated carrots, cubed mango, chopped cilantro, chopped mint, and roasted ground cumin.
- Add salad dressing and mix well to meld flavors. Cover with an aluminum foil and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!