Creamy Spinach with Mung Beans

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Creamy Spinach with Mung Beans

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 BeansCreamy Spinach with Mung Beans
Recipe by
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

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 55 to 60 minutes

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  • 3/4 cup dried whole mung beans
  • 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 unsweetened desiccated 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.

Makes 4 servings

Mung Beans and Spinach

Other recipes featuring spinach to try from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry with Green Peas
Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potato Curry)
Aloo Palak Paneer Pie
Spinach Pancakes with Lime Butter


Shaheen said...

I do like mung beans, but I am afraid I don't use it that much. This is a lovely naturally creamy dish with the addition of spinach. Thank you for sharing with #EatYourGreens

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa, will be trying this recipe soon. Whole mung beans have more of an association with wholefood veggie recipes I used to cook in the eighties. Not that they were not tasty, there were, but a little beard and sandal brigade. When I got interested in Indian food then it was the mung dal I tended to use but more recently I have been discovering recipes using the whole mung beans, often in combinations with other dals. I love the earthiness they bring. Black dal, whole urid dal, is one of my favourite dishes.