Up until a year ago I had never seen (let alone cooked or eaten) mung beans. I had seen mung beans sprouts in the supermarket but I had never seen the actual dried beans which I think are quite attractive and look like glossy green gems. Here is what they look like uncooked:
Mung beans are incredibly healthy and can be considered a functional food. This means they have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing numerous important nutrients like folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, and fibre, scientific studies have found that mung beans have certain physiological functionalites. These include antitumour activity (see here), antioxidant activity (see here), antidiabetic activity (see here), antihypertensive activity (see here), and the ability to lower plasma cholesterol (see here) and inhibit LDL oxidation (see here). Wow, who knew?
The great thing about mung beans from a cooking perspective is they are easy to cook. You don’t need to soak them before cooking and they cook in as little as 20 minutes. They also have a mild taste but soak up loads of flavour. I adapted this recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More cookbook which I finally got my hands on. This cookbook does not disappoint and is my new favourite! I made this warm salad for lunch today and it was perfect just on its own, but I think it would also pair nicely as a side dish with roasted chicken. My teenage boys both loved this dish, so unfortunately there were no leftovers. Next time I will double the recipe.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 3/4 cup dried green mung beans
- 4 tbls extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- pinch of chilli flakes
- 3 large carrots (or around 17 baby carrots) peeled and cut into 5 cm by 1 cm strips
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 tbls chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup Persian feta crumbled (you can omit feta to make this dish vegan)
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil, add the mung beans and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes until the beans are cooked but not mushy. While the beans are cooking, heat 2 tbls olive oil in a small frying pan and add the cumin, caraway and fennel seeds. Cook on medium heat for around 3 minutes, stirring, until the seeds start to pop. Remove from heat and set aside. When the beans are done cooking, drain well and place into a bowl. Pour oil and seeds over the hot beans and stir in the garlic, vinegar, chilli flakes and 1/2 tsp of salt. Set aside.
While beans are boiling, place carrots in a large frying pan spreading them out into one layer as shown below.
Fill the pan with enough water so that the carrots are nearly covered, but not completely. Add 2 tbls olive oil, sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. Boil on high for 10-12 minutes until the water is evaporated and the carrots are slightly caramelised.