The Magnificent Mung Bean

Mung what? Magnificent Why? Mung beans, and their split, hulled version, mung dhal can be used to create such a variety of dishes, salads, soups, spreads, savouries, beverages and desserts we decided to give it an article all to itself. Mung or moong beans (Phaseolus aureous) are small cylindrical beans with a bright green skin and yellow insides that are eaten whole, split with skins on, split and hulled, or sprouted.


Mung Beans are used extensively in both Indian and Chinese ayurvedic dishes. All three cultures value the mung bean because it is highly nutritious and delivers sustenance while being easier on the digestion that most other beans. When cooked to butter-soft consistency and combined with digestion-enhancing herbs and spices, mung beans can be digested even by the very old and the very young. Mung beans offer protein and dietary fiber, and are a source of phytoestrogens. They also contain vitamins A, C and E, folacin, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium.


Dry mung beans and dhals can contain small twigs and stones. Spread out the beans on a white serving dish and pick them over carefully before use. Also pick out and discard any discoloured or shrivelled beans.

Dry beans should be washed thoroughly in several changes of water before use. Discard any that float on top of the water.

Whole mung beans are cooked both without soaking and after soaking. Mung beans can be cooked in a pressure cooker, in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. If cooking on the stovetop, foam that builds at the top can be skimmed off and discarded.

Mung Dhals generally have the best flavour when they are slow-cooked for a long time.

Combining with Other Foods

Mung beans can be combined with brown or white rice, cracked wheat or oatmeal to make a one-dish meal known as khicharee. They can also be cooked to a soupy texture with lots of water and spices or used to make stews with a wide variety of greens and vegetables and grains such as barley.

Fresh ginger, basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, curry leaves and tarragon, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and spices such as turmeric, cayenne, ajwain, cumin, coriander, garam masala, black pepper and bay leaf go wonderfully with mung beans.

Bitter Greens, Mung Sprouts, Avocado and Orange Salad

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup mixed bitter greens (watercress, salad leaves etc.)
  • 1 cup fresh mung beans, cut in half
  • 1 cup orange sections, deseeded
  • 1/2 cup diced avocado
  • 1 tbsp soaked walnut bits, soaked for 15 minutes in warm water
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin organic olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Boil the beans until soft. Heat one tbsp of the oil in a pan. Toss in the spinach leaves and mung beans and stir briefly to wilt the spinach leaves. Remove to a bowl and cool. Add the mixed bitter greens, orange and avocado. In another bowl, briskly whisk together the lemon juice, rest of the olive oil, lemon zest, salt, pepper, ginger and tahini. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Garnish with the chopped walnuts and serve immediately.

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