It’s hard to be prepared for summer in Washington, no matter how long you’ve waited for it through the cold, dark days of winter. The days can be so humid and sticky, I am almost reminded of being back in Bombay– almost.
Opie — looking rather puppy-like in his summer haircut — sits around the house, eyes glazed over, tongue hanging out, panting furiously. Our home is not centrally air-conditioned and in past summers Opie would make his way to the basement and lie all day — and sometimes all night — on the cool, concrete floor. But he’s nearly 13 now and the arthritis has made tackling the steep basement stairs a harder job than it ever was before. So Desi has been carrying him up to our bedroom and turning on the window air-conditioner unit and the fan full-blast so he can cool down. At night, when he sleeps, sprawled over half the bed while Desi and I squeeze into the other half, I have no doubt that he’s dreaming of fields of pure, white snow.
But summer is not without its rewards. There are all those fresh fruits and vegetables. The fact that it doesn’t take a day and a half for your bread to rise. And, for a bean-lover, there’s the magic of sprouts.
You know about my sprout obsession which kicks into high gear every summer. While sprouting is a great idea at any time of the year, the heat does the job much faster.
If you’re a novice to sprouting, there’s no better time to start than the summer. And although you can buy all kinds of fancy equipment to sprout, there’s really no need for anything other than a colander, a kitchen towel, and a bowl to get the perfect sprouts. All you need to do is soak your beans or lentils overnight or for up to eight hours in enough water to cover them by at least three inches. Drain the beans in a colander, give them a thorough wash, and let them sit in the colander, covered with a kitchen towel, until little white shoots appear. Simple. You do have to rinse them a couple of times a day– once in the morning and again in the evening — which is easy enough to do in a colander. Then put them right back in their resting place, covered, and you should have perfect sprouts to cook with in a day or two.
There are a number of health benefits to sprouting:
- Sprouting increases the B-vitamin content of the bean– astronomically.
- When a bean sprouts, it creates all kinds of good-for-you enzymes.
- Sprouting makes nutrients in the bean more bio-available, so they are better absorbed by your body.
- Sprouts contain even more fiber than the unsprouted bean does.
- Sprouts are a good source of essential fatty acids.
- The quality of the bean’s protein improves when it sprouts, improving its nutritional value.
Plus, it doesn’t cost anything to sprout, so why wouldn’t you do it? If you’re still not sure, start with sprouting mung beans which are the easiest to sprout.
And when you do, the first thing you’ll want to try with them are these Sprouted Mung Bean Burgers.
These burgers spin off from a traditional Indian recipe, moong dal tikkis, and need no exotic or hard-to-acquire Indian ingredients to prepare. Even the turmeric is optional. But they are so flavorsome, you will be in love with them right from the moment they send their fragrance wafting through the house as they sizzle in the pan.
Jay gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, so this recipe is kid-friendly as well.
This burger is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, thanks to the potatoes. and it can freeze beautifully, separated by wax paper. But if you’re looking for a burger to grill, you might want to try my Chana Masala burger or one of these many other great-to-grill veggie burger recipes I’ve posted in the past which tend to be more hefty and chewy. I served these on all-whole-wheat burger buns slathered with some mint-cilantro chutney.
- For the burgers:
- 1 cup dry mung beans
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed well
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 2 green chillies like serrano, very finely minced
- 1 small onion, finely minced
- ½ tsp turmeric (optional-- I just like the color, but you can leave it out)
- 2 tbsp cilantro or coriander leaves, minced
- 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely minced
- Salt to taste
- For the Mint-Cilantro Chutney:
- ¼ cup cilantro or coriander leaves
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 1 green chilli, chopped (like serrano or jalapeno)
- Salt to taste
- Make the burger:
- Soak your mung beans overnight or for up to eight hours in enough water to cover them by at least three inches. Drain the beans in a colander, give them a thorough wash, and let them sit in the colander, covered with a kitchen towel, until little white shoots appear. It should take no more than a full day in summer. If they haven't sprouted yet, rinse them a couple of times a day-- once in the morning and again in the evening -- cover again, and wait.
- Once the beans have sprouted, cook the sprouts with just enough water to cover them, for 30 minutes. You want the beans to be al dente and not too mushy. Pulse the beans in a food processor or mash them to break them into smaller pieces, but leave some whole for texture)
- In a large bowl, mix the mung beans with all of the other ingredients. The mixture should hold together when you form a patty.
- Form 10 burger patties, patting them out on your palm and shaping the edges with your fingers.
- Heat a non-stick or cast-iron griddle. Spray or brush on some oil. Cook the burgers over medium-high heat until golden-brown. Flip over and cook the other side.
- Serve hot or cold. These are delicious on a whole-wheat bun, but they are just as good bunless, with some mint-cilantro chutney.
- Make the chutney:
- Place all of the chutney ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Add just enough water to keep the blades moving, or more if you like your chutney thin.
More sprout love: