Bengali Moong Palong: A Simple, Nutritious, Flavourful Starter
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Eating green leafy vegetables is a must for all, but if you are Bengali, then it is an integral part of the traditional meal. Usually eaten well after the Teto or bitter starter in Bengali cuisine, Shaak or green leafy vegetables are eaten in dry form with rice. This inclusion is not only for health reasons—though that is definitely a factor here—but also for the flavour of these leafy greens, especially when blended with mild spices. Moong Palong is one such Bengali leafy greens dish. 

Simply put, Moong refers to moong dal and Palong refers to spinach or palak leaves. To be fair, there is not dearth of moong dal dishes from across India or even Bengali cuisine itself. Further, moong dal with spinach leaves and a tadka is quite the North Indian staple during winter months too. But this Moong Palong dish stands out because, firstly, it is a dry version of the dal, and secondly, because you can taste each grain of moong dal. Instead of a watery, super-mashed version of moong dal, Moong Palong offers a simple yet delicious taste of the lentil while merging it with spinach leaves. 

Moong Palong is one of those dishes that are prepared in certain households of Bengal, especially West Bengalis or Ghotis. A version of this dish has been passed down the generations in my maternal grandmother’s household which is nutritious, simple and devoid of any aggravating spices—even green chillies aren’t added to the dish, making it a mild, summery dish too.   

Nowadays, spinach is available all-year through, making Moong Palong a dish that you can cook up and enjoy not only during winters. What’s more, this Bengali dish is perfect for everyone because it has a wide appeal. After all, Moong Palong, packed with the nutrition of spinach leaves and lentils, is not just a vegetarian dish. Usually, a splash of ghee is added at the end of the cooking process in most Bengali dishes, but if you skip that with the Moong Palong, the dish immediately turns vegan! 

So, if you are looking for a new vegetarian dish to try, then this Bengali Moong Palong is just what you need. An added benefit is that Moong Palong is very easy to prepare, and even a beginner-level cook can whip it up in maximum half an hour’s time. Isn’t that just what you need out of an effortless, nutritious and delicious dish? Here’s the recipe. 

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500 g spinach leaves, finely chopped 

3 tbsp moong dal 

½ tsp panch phoran 

1 dry red chilli 

½ tsp turmeric powder 

Salt, to taste 

½ tsp sugar 

1 tbsp mustard oil 

1 cup water 

½ tsp ghee 

2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped 


1. In a pan, dry roast the moong dal until golden brown. 

2. Remove and wash the moong dal thoroughly. 

3. Heat mustard oil in a wok, then add panch phoran and dry red chilli. 

4. Once the tempering stops spluttering add the chopped spinach and moong dal. 

5. Mix well, then add turmeric powder, salt to taste and sugar. 

6. Add water, cover and cook until the moong dal and spinach are done. 

7. Sprinkle ghee and coriander leaves on top, and serve the Moong Palong hot.