Mung Beans in a Golden Karhi Sauce

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
mung beans in yogurt sauce

One of my favorite dishes from Yamuna Devi's gospel of Indian cooking, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking is her tender chickpeas simmered in a golden karhi sauce. I've more than a few favorites from the book that often appear on my table, yet each and every time I browse through the 800 pages of culinary Indian bliss, I find yet another recipe that I can't believe I haven't tried … I have owned this treasured cookbook for about 20 years. Then there is the pleasure of revisiting some of my favorites from the book and tinkering with the recipes and my initial adaptations.

Truly, if I had to pick just one cookbook to keep out of my extensive collection, this would be that desert island choice. I'd hope for a truckload of legumes, grains and spices to go along with it and fresh produce from the isle. As I have noted in the past, this was my earliest introduction to Indian cooking shortly after I became a vegetarian. It opened up a whole new nourishing and exciting culinary world to me that I continue to cherish and explore.

This time around, earthy mung beans are simmered in a tangy yogurt sauce. This recipe called for sprouted mung beans, which I am sure would have been just perfect, but I didn't plan ahead — mung bean sprouts take 2 to 3 days of preparation — and so came up with a version using whole mung beans that I soaked overnight and then simmered until tender.

Karhis are yogurt based dishes that are usually served with rice. Often they contain cooked or sprouted legumes, sometimes dumplings and vegetables. This one is on the tangy side of the spectrum and I went with a thicker gravy that is popular in Northern India. Depending on the yogurt you use, a karhi sauce might be slightly sweet, thinner, with a consistency like a soup or a thick gravy. I experimented with the original recipe and came up with this treasured vegetarian main that I served with buttered Jasmine rice. You may want to consider serving up yellow lemon rice with fried cashews as a side for some extra flair and tart flavor.

mung beans in karhi sauce

Mung Beans in a Golden Karhi SauceMung Beans in a Golden Karhi Sauce
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
Cuisine: Indian
Published on May 17, 2013

Sweet and colorful mung beans simmered in a creamy, fragrant, spicy and tangy seasoned yogurt sauce

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 65 to 70 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1 1/4 cup whole mung beans (3 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan), sifted
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups plain yogurt, whisked
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 to 4 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • generous handful of dried curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Rinse the mung beans and soak in several inches of water for 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover. and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

  • Place the chickpea flour in a large bowl and slowly whisk in half of the coconut milk. Whisk in the remaining coconut milk, water, yogurt, salt, turmeric, ground coriander, fenugreek seeds, chili powder, paprika and cayenne.

  • Pour this mixture into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Stir and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the cooked mung beans to the pan and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Add more water if necessary to achieve your desired consistency.

  • Heat the ghee, butter or oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds, green chilies, asafetida, cinnamon stick and curry leaves, and stir for a minute or two or until the cumin seeds darken a few shades. Pour into the beans, quickly stir once, and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick, stir in most of the fresh parsley or cilantro (reserving some for garnish).

  • Serve hot or warm garnished with the remaining parsley or cilantro, with hot fresh cooked buttered rice and/or Indian flatbreads on the side.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

mung bean curry

More mung beans dishes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Indian-Style Spicy Mung Beans (Moong Dal)
Mung Bean Paneer
Spicy Mung Beans
Sour Mung Bean Soup


Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,
Would love to try this recipe but
need to know when to add the 2
cups of yogurt. I assume at or
near the end.
Thanks for all your great ideas!
Donna in SoCal

Lisa Turner said...

Oh dear. The recipe has been edited now. Sorry for any confusion.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, Thank you for this great kitchen post. Your attention to detail is amazing!
Modular Kitchen Collection

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Stephanie said...

Hi, Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I prepared this for last night's dinner, and it was a real treat! I paired with the Lemon Yellow Rice with Fried Cashews, as suggested, and it was fantastic!! Peace, Stephanie