Sauteed whole mung beans were a staple breakfast in my grand mother's kitchen long before folks had begun the conversation on the merits of whole grains & legumes.
It seems to me that my parents and grandparents pretty much had good eating habits down pat - cooking from scratch, with fresh ingredients, whole grains and a whole lot of greens, vegetables, and lean protein.
My weekends were always spent in my maternal grandmother's (nani) home and I still remember the day kicking off with a small bowl of these wonderful mung beans and a tall glass of milk.
My nani's crumpled form today is a far cry of her former self as she sleeps in the fetal position in the care of a nurse, 24/7. This once feisty, independent and self-assured woman has been reduced to this. But her skin continues to glow and she is beautiful in my eyes. Very old & shriveled but still beautiful and I for one will always see her as the woman I remember - standing tall and one of the finest culinary masters I have ever known.
I like to believe that that small spark that shines in me when I'm in the kitchen, comes from her.
Fortunately for me, my Mum though not adventurous in her culinary exploits does what she does very well. She has my nani's hand and continues cooking her traditional dishes for which I am eternally grateful.
As she prepares the morning mung beans just like her Mum did for decades, it reinforces for me the importance of carrying forward the small things that make our families unique, that bind us by blood and by tradition.
These mung beans have a few ground spices, a handful of fresh herbs, loads of fresh ginger root with a few curry leaves throw in and little else. Saragva ni sing aka drum-sticks is a long vegetable akin to drum-sticks you beat a drum with, not the chicken variety and is optional but can be purchased in Indian grocery stores.
The result, however, is spectacular so much so that Mr. Hubby actually asked Mum to video skype this for him.
Looks like this is one tradition that's here to stay.
Sauteed Whole Mung Beans from Gujarat, India
1 cup dry whole mung beans (green)
3 cups of water
1" fresh ginger root
1-2 Thai green chilies
4-5 curry leaves separated from the sprig
1 stick saragva ni sing (optional)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp ground cumin-coriander powder
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbs vegetable oil
Mung beans - Soak the beans overnight in water. Drain but reserve the water the next morning.
Fresh ginger root - Wash and roughly chop. No need to peel.
Green chilly - Slit lengthwise and set aside.
Saragva ni sing - String & cut into 3" lengths then slit lengthwise so you have 2 halves.
In a saute pan or a kadhai, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the drained mung beans and add only as much water as to reach the level of the beans.
Add the ground turmeric, salt, roughly chopped ginger root, slit green chillies, curry leaves &
saragva ni sing.
Cover with the tight fitting lid and cook for 10-15 minutes. The beans will cook to a crunchy tender.
Add the remaining ground spices, chopped cilantro and cover the lid cooking for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Remove from heat and set aside for another 5-10 minutes to allow the steam to finish cooking the beans.