Let’s Talk About Mung Baby!
I started cooking with mung beans about six months ago when I started eating less meat. My family loves the taste so much that I make it at least twice per week now – sometimes as a side dish with veggies and/or rice, other times as a delicious soup (recipe to come), and now that I’ve had two private cooking lessons with Laxmi Mason, head chef at The Raj Ayurveda Center, I’ll soon be making gluten-free mung bean Chipatis and crepes! Yum. 🙂
But what the mung is it?
The mung bean, alternatively known as the moong bean, green gram, or mung Sanskrit मुद्ग / mudga, is a plant species in the legume family. The mung bean is mainly cultivated in India, China, and Southeast Asia.
Basically, mung beans are an ancient superfood that have been eaten for centuries by health conscious cultures aware of their nutritional benefits.
There are basically two kinds of mung beans. Whole mung beans, which are green. And split mung beans, which are yellow. You can also sprout mung beans, which you will often find in many stir fried Asian dishes.
The split mung bean is also referred to as “mung dal” or “moong dal”, which is just a type of dish – soupy or stew like, cooked with vegetables, lots of spices, and often basmati rice.
A notable advantage of mung beans (especially the yellow split version) is that they are deemed by many as the easiest bean to digest (far easier than chick peas and especially black beans). Ayurveda certainly supports this claim, and so it is a staple in Ayurvedic diets, praised for its cooling (yin) and nourishing effects.
Green Mung Beans benefits:
• High Protein
• High Fiber
• High in Vitamins and Minerals
• Low Calorie
• Low Fat
• Low Cholesterol
• Low Sodium
• Low Glycemic Load (Low Sugars)
• Rich in Antioxidants
• Gluten Free
• Raw Sprouted Food Source
• Contain Phytoestrogens for Anti-Aging
Green Mung Beans benefits:
Many say that whole mung beans do not need to be soaked prior to cooking. Which is true. However, all beans are easier digest after they have been soaked overnight. Mung beans are no exception, even split mung beans.
Chef Laxmi suggests that after the beans have been soaked overnight, that you rinse them very well 3-4 times in cold water, dumping the water out each time, expect for the last rinse which she suggests you pour right over the beans to cook.
To further improve digestion, Laxmi suggests you cook them with digestive herbs and spices, such as ginger, cumin, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, turmeric, basil, rosemary, sage, tarragon, black pepper, and pink himalayan salt. But not all of these in one dish! Choose 3-4 spices that go well together. Ayurveda always suggest
you use spices according to the season you are living in. For example, in the summer you would use cooling spices like fennel, turmeric, and coriander or cumin. Never ginger or black pepper, which are both heating.
Several Cooking Options:
You can slow cook them on the stovetop (if presoaked, it will likely take just about 30 minutes), prepare them in a pressure cooker (the fastest option), or cook them in a rice cooker (the least maintenance).
Keep in mind that whole mung beans (green) will take longer to cook than split mung beans because they are starchier.