The fresh and wholesome taste of green mung beans was one of the great revelations to me when I started cooking Indian vegetarian food more than two decades ago. Light, refreshing, nourishing and slightly starchy in flavor, mung beans are a colorful and delicious platform for dry curries using spices, ginger, coconut and vegetables. The fact that they cook up more quickly than most whole beans is a bonus for cooks in a hurry.
This mung bean and spinach curry makes for an easy and light but complete and filling delicious meal when served with fresh cook white rice — or a fragrant saffron rice as I have done here. Cooked with a ginger, tomato, coconut and an assortment of spices, the curry has a complex layering of flavors that belie the simplicity of putting it together. It’s a fine curry to serve at any time of year.
Creamy Spinach with Mung Beans
Recipe by Lisa Turner Cuisine: Indian Published on May 26, 2017
Simple, light and nourishing mung bean and spinach curry with a delightful layering of ginger, tomato, coconut and spice flavors
3/4 cup whole mung beans, soaked for at least 5 hours or overnight in enough water to cover
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons split urad dal, washed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
2 green chilies, seeded and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon asafetida
small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 lb (450 g) fresh spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons grated coconut
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
Rinse the mung beans and soak for 6 hours or overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of fresh water. Add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat an set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry until the cumin seeds darken a few shades. Add the urad dal, ginger and chilies, and cook for another few minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric, asafetida and curry leaves, stir a couple of times, and then add the tomato to the pan. Stir for another few minutes to thicken the tomato.
Now add handfuls of spinach at a time, cooking until wilted. Stir in the cooked mung beans, coconut, and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for another few minutes, adding more water as desired to achieve desired consistency. Stir in the lime juice and simmer for another few minutes.
Remove from heat and serve over fresh cooked white basmati rice.