Louisa Shafia

Mung! Why You Should Eat These Tiny Beans from India

I discovered mung beans while researching my upcoming Persian cookbook. These grass-colored beans with a white speck at the center are a staple in Iran, India, and China, but here in The United States, most people have never tasted them.

Mung beans make a great addition to your pantry, and here’s the main reason: they cook much faster than most other beans! Boil whole mung beans in water and they’re ready to eat in about 45 minutes. Split mung beans, which have the outer skin removed and are yellow, take only 20-30 minutes to cook. That means that you can throw a handful of grains like quinoa, rice, or rolled oats in with the beans, take your time chopping up vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and kale, and then throw them into the pot for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Voila, you have a flavorful, nutritionally balanced soup, and you probably had time for a glass of wine and a phone call, too.

Besides cooking quickly, mung beans have a well-rounded, comforting taste, that’s reminiscent of potatoes. They’re complemented by a little minced garlic and onion, and a dash of Indian spice like turmeric, cumin, or curry powder. You can take mung beans in a different direction by adding Persian herbs like dried mint, dill weed, and cilantro. Or, do as the Chinese, Filipinos, and some Indians do, and use mung beans in dessert. Sweetened with honey, and flavored with coconut milk and ginger, mung beans make a delightful porridge.

Besides their adaptability and short cooking time, mung beans are high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and are packed with protein. Mung beans also contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals including B-6, iron, and potassium. You can find mung beans in natural food stores as well as Indian and Chinese markets.

Here’s a simple recipe for mung bean soup that’s perfect for cold weather.

Mung Bean and Quinoa Soup

Serves 2

1/2 cup whole green mung beans

1/2 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons dried dill weed

4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water

2 large handfuls chopped leafy greens, such as kale or spinach

1/2 of a juicy lime or lemon

2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt

Salt

Pick through the mung beans and quinoa and rinse them under cold water.

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, mung beans, quinoa, turmeric, and dill, and cook for a few minutes until heated through. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then cover and cook at a very gentle boil, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. The beans should be starting to split open.

Add the greens to the pot and return to a boil, them reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, until the greens are tender. Add salt and season to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and squeeze in equal amounts of lemon or lime juice. Top each bowl with a tablespoon of yogurt, and serve.


8 Responses to “Mung! Why You Should Eat These Tiny Beans from India”

  1. Jacoby says:

    Whoa, things just got a whole lot esiaer.

  2. Gary says:

    Thankyou for great interesting information, recipes and instructions on cooking and dining with natural whole Mung beans!!!

  3. Maria says:

    I am a Sri Lankan and we have this on a regular basis for breakfast. If you soak it for about 24 hrs and then boil it in the morning, then the time taken is very much less. Add a little salt when the water is almost evaporating then set aside; we make an accompaniment of a sambol with chopped red shallots, a wee bit of crushed chillies, salt, lime juice; then we serve with freshly grated coconut. It is delicious and of course nutritious.

  4. Nina says:

    5star recipe. Thanks you. I added some fresh turmeric as well as the powder. I am Iranian and somehow it tasted like our famous dish Ash!

  5. Dan says:

    Everywhere I buy mung beans, the beans are old and take forever to cook. I’m in NYC so you’d think there would be turnover, but it doesn’t seem like it. Are there any reputable places to get them online?

    • Jenn Giacoppo says:

      Hi Dan! Perhaps buying dried mung beans would be a good move if you’re having a hard time with spoilage? – Jenn, RachaelRay.com

  6. Noel says:

    WOW, this was something out of the ordinary for me but I had some mung beans and really want to try something different. I loved it. thank you . I cannot wait to share it with my family and cannot stop “taste testing” :0
    Noel

  7. Bev says:

    I love mung beans, first fount them on sale here for 2.00 for a 3 lb bag of them. Those were split but had not been hulled so, were green. Wonderful little beans, quick cooking and good simply slated and eaten as a side dish but, they are even better mashed and used instead of potatoes, add cheese, garlic, sour cream, whatever you like in mashed potatoes.

    They also work well ran through the medium disk on a food mill, then with a little slat, honey, sugar or, maple syrup and, cream or milk to make a hot breakfast of them. A more starchy mouth feel than farina and, a slightly different taste, but delicious.

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