My dad hails from Karwar, a beautiful town along India’s Konkan coast. Although his family moved to Bombay when he was little more than a child, they kept in touch, as all immigrant Indians do, with the culture and cuisine of their native land.
Konkani cuisine is quite rich and varied, but the common denominator in most recipes is fresh, milky coconut, which is not surprising given the lush abundance of coconut trees in the Konkan region. In our home, the ritual of preparing morning meals would usually begin with the women sitting down on an adoli, or a small wooden seat with a curved metal blade attached to it, and skillfully scraping the fresh coconut into heaping mounds of sweet, moist shreds. The coconut would be added– either by itself or ground into a pulp or its milk extracted– to all sorts of mouthwatering preparations, from ghasis (thick curries) to upakaris (vegetable dishes) and hummans (gravies).
One of the vegetarian tastes from my childhood that has always stayed with me is that of a moong bean preparation called Moogache Molay Gathi. The moong is usually soaked and sprouted before use, and I remember that in my house each bean would always be peeled before it was added to the curry to ensure a pristine presentation. As you can imagine, it was a long, laborious process.
In my kitchen, I just use the whole moong bean whose skin cooks up quite tender. Plus, I figure it is more nutritious to eat the whole bean, skin and all.
I love sprouting beans which always multiplies their nutritive value, but because I was short on time I used them straight from the pantry. Do take the extra step of soaking and sprouting if you have the time. It is completely worth it.
As I always do, I played around with the recipe to suit my own (spicier!) taste. I added garlic which gave it a kick and complexity I loved, and at the very end I used some tomato to add a subtly tangy note. It all worked perfectly together and the curry stood up nicely to the brown rice I served it with.
So here it is, my Moogache Molay, a simple treat that is as nutritious as it is delicious. Hope you enjoy it!
1 cup whole moong beans, soaked and sprouted overnight (you can skip this step if you’re short on time) and cooked until tender
3/4 cup coconut milk (I used canned)
3 sprigs curry leaves
1 tbsp ginger, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp coriander, powdered
1 tsp cumin, powdered
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 tbsp canola oil
1 large tomato, diced
About 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
Grind the ginger, garlic and curry leaves from 1 sprig into a paste.
Heat the oil in a saucepan.
Add the onions and remaining curry leaves and saute until the onions start browning at the edges.
Add the ginger-garlic paste, cumin, coriander, and chili powders, and turmeric, and cook for a couple of minutes, until the paste no longer smells raw.
Add the cooked moong beans and salt and stir thoroughly.
Let it cook about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary, until the flavors merge.
Add the coconut milk and mix, then turn off the heat before the mixture returns to a boil.
Garnish with the chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice.