Classic North Indian Mung Beans with Cumin, Onion and Ginger


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
North Indian Mung Beans

With their distinctive sweet and earthy flavor, mung beans are for me especially comforting and wholesome. They're easy to digest in both the whole or split form, but whole mung beans don't take much longer to cook than split ones, and so long as they haven't been sadly neglected in the back of your pantry, require very little soaking time either. They may be combined with other dals though I often like to feature them as the shining legume in a dish, especially when they are gently enhanced with basic spices and flavors that serve to bring out the essential characteristics of the colorful mung bean.

This quick and easy dish is a perfect example. There is a gentle heat from chilies that are cooked with the dal whole, rather than minced or incorporated into the tarka or tempering at the end of the dish. Cumin and coriander complement the earthiness of the mung, and ginger and garlic add just a hint of pungency, along with some texture, to round out the dish, as does the hint of zest from the sparing use of lemon juice. It's an exercise in restraint and a memorable classic precisely because of the balanced simplicity of the preparation and flavors.

In the same way, very little is needed to go along with the dish for it to serve as a satisfying meal. A bed of hot rice, with some green peas mixed in, and some favorite flatbreads, such as coconut roti, are really all you need to feel content and nourished.


Classic North Indian Mung Beans with Cumin, Onion and GingerClassic North Indian Mung Beans with Cumin, Onion and Ginger
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 26, 2019

Simple mung bean curry perfectly balanced with classic cumin, ginger and onion seasonings

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

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Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried whole mung beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 to 5 whole fresh green chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt salt
Tarka (tempering):
  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • fresh ground black pepper, for garnish
Instructions:
  • Rinse the mung beans and soak in enough water to cover for 2 hours or longer. Drain and rinse again, then transfer to a medium saucepan. Pour in 4 cups water and add the whole chilies and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 40 to 50 minutes, adding more water as needed, until the beans are soft and begin to break apart. Whisk in the salt, turn off the heat, and leave to sit while you prepare the tarka.

  • Heat the oil or ghee in small saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and stir for 30 seconds or until the cumin seeds darken a few shades. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes to soften. Stir in the ginger and cook for another minute. Stir in the curry leaves, asafetida, coriander, cumin and paprika, and cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to the mung beans, quickly stir, and cover. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

  • Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Garnish each portion with black pepper.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Mung Beans with Cumin, Onion and Ginger

More recipes featuring mung beans to enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Creamy Spinach with Mung Beans
Gingered Mung Beans
Mung Tamarind Dal

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