Mung bean, carrot, pea shoots and crunchy radish bowl

 Mung bean, carrot and radish salad bowl

Mung bean, carrot and radish salad bowl

When K and I visit family in India, we eat well. We eat really, really well.

All the aunties pull out all the stops, cooking K's favorite foods from childhood and catering to my recently acquired favorites. There's dosas and idlis for breakfast, and a variety of spicy vegetable curries and freshly prepared handmade rotis served alongside homemade yogurt and rice for lunch and dinner. It's truly heavenly.

However, after a few days, it can also start to seem....well, heavy. To me, at least. That's because other than fruit and some sliced cucumber, there are few raw food options. The one exception: crunchy sprouted mung bean salads.

For someone who’s used to snacking on baby carrots and eating some sort of salad on an almost daily basis, I find myself craving mung beans when I’m there. But back home, I never think to make it for myself.

I've recently come to realize that mung beans are a highly overlooked food within the bean world here. Which is a shame, because they’re actually a super duper superfood packed with protein, fiber and magnesium, among a several other nutrients. And unlike most other beans, they’re easier to digest (Read: They don’t give you gas. Huge bonus!). After a little research, I found out that in India mung beans are actually one of the most touted foods in ancient ayurvedic holistic medicine practice. So, I've made the decision to bring more mung  beans into our life. And now yours.

In searching for mung bean salads, I came across Yotam Ottolenghi’s version in Plenty More that serves them up with blanched carrots and feta . While I love the spices he uses in that recipe, cooking anything other than the mung beans defeated the easy, fresh preparation I was going for. So I altered it a bit to make it truly a salad type of dish.

It was a hit with the family and I’ve been munching on it for a couple of days. I even to took it to a picnic, since it holds up so well in the heat. Now I can’t wait to start experimenting a bit more with these guys — mung bean veggie burgers, anyone?!

 Dried green mung beans
 Spice box

One of the most cherished foods in ancient ayurvedic holistic medicine practice, mung beans are a powerhouse of nutrients. Crunchy and nutty, they hold up wonderfully in salads and quickly soak up all the flavors of the dressing, which in this case is a powerful combo of cumin, caraway and fennel seeds.  

COOKING NOTES

Mung beans can be found at specialty food stores and most general stores nowadays. I usually get mine from Whole Foods in the bulk bin area.

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

Kosher salt
1 cup dried green mung beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½  teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup pea shoots
3 to 4 radishes, thinly sliced
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a medium-sized sauce pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the mung beans, turn the head to low and simmer until the beans are cooked, but still have a little bite, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the beans, shaking to remove any excess water, and set aside. Wipe out the pot.
  3. In the same sauce pot over low heat, warm to 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until hot. Add the cumin, caraway, fennel, chili flakes and garlic and cook until they start smelling fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. Transfer the dried mung beans to a large bowl. Pour the olive oil, garlic and spice mixture over the beans and toss to combine.
  5. Add the carrots, pea shoots, radish and cilantro and gently stir to combine.
  6. Stir in the remaining olive oil, lemon zest and two tablespoons of the lemon juice. Add salt, to taste. Toss to combine and serve.