I have for you today a very simple, very nutritious and very delicious sprouted mung bean salad that, in my part of India, goes by the name of Moong Usal.
There’s something about sprouting beans that brings out the poet in me. Watching those tiny little white squiggles shoot out of the legume and grow, like magic, over a period of days and sometimes just hours makes my jaw drop in wonder to this day, no matter how many times I do it. And as a cook and an eater, I love just how delicious and nutritious these little nuggets are. Not to mention versatile. You can pile them into a sandwich, cook them into a curry like this classic Moogache Molay Gathi, turn them into an eggless omelet, or just saute them a little, add a dash of salt and pepper, squeeze on some lemon, and you’ve got a dish to die for.
Of all the legumes you can sprout, moong or mung beans are probably the quickest and the easiest. Even in my winter kitchen, with temperatures dipping below freezing outside, the sprouts I used in this salad were ready in about two days with the minimal care and attention. So if you haven’t sprouted beans before — and you really should — mung beans are a great place to start. Here’s a quick tutorial on sprouting beans:
— Measure the beans, pick over them for any stones, then wash them thoroughly by placing them in a colander and rinsing in cold water.
–Place the beans in a glass bowl and cover with three inches of water. Set aside for eight hours or overnight.
–After the beans have soaked overnight or for 8 hours, strain them in the colander, preferably one large enough to hold the beans. Rinse the beans under cold, running water.
–Cover the colander with a kitchen towel and set aside. Twice a day, rinse the legumes, let the water run out, and then set them aside again, covered with the kitchen towel.
–After a day you should see tiny little white shoots developing. I usually let my beans sit another day, continuing to rinse and drain, until the shoots are a little bigger.
And that’s it, really. You don’t need any fancy equipment to sprout beans. You don’t even need a large colander if you don’t have one– just make sure that you drain out all the water from the container every time you rinse the beans. Easy peasy.
Sprouting beans is an exercise worth the small amount of work because it makes an already healthy superfood even healthier– imagine that! The quantities of proteins, vitamins and minerals in legumes soar when they are sprouted, and even better, the legume becomes more easily digestible. Now why would you argue with that?
Once you have your sprouted beans all set to go, my Moong Usal comes together in minutes with a minimal number of ingredients that you should already have in your pantry. Usal is a classic Maharashtrian dish– food from my mother’s land. Maharashtrians use a special kind of spice blend– goda masala, which includes coconut– to make usal and you can look up my recipe for goda masala in my DIY spice blends list, if you have a mind to make it. But because this is a minimalist, easy version I used garam masala which you likely already have in your spice box.
Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
- 1 cup dry mung beans or moong, sprouted (see tutorial above)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, finely diced
- 2 green chillies, slit through the middle
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp garam masala (use goda masala if you have this)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
- ¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a large wok or kadhai or saucepan
- Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onions start to turn golden-brown.
- Add the garlic and green chillies and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, coriander and cumin powders and cook until the tomato starts to break down but isn't quite mushy.
- Add the sprouted mung beans and mix well. Cover and let the beans cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir every once in a while and, if needed, add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent sticking. You can let the beans cook longer if you want them to be softer. I like mine a little al dente with some crunch to them.
- Add salt to taste, sugar and the lemon juice. Mix in the coriander leaves.
- Serve hot.