I consider myself a very fortunate Private Chef. Why? While I’ve cooked for clients with very questionable food cravings and artery clogging demands for dinner, I have also had the delightful luck to delve in and research into foreign cuisines for clients looking to have a taste of their family roots. I have one such client who loves to eat traditional Indian Food, full of rich nutrient ingredients and color. My smile widens with delight and my eyes sparkle when I get to create a piece of home for her. She also happens to be vegetarian, and gluten free. Which makes me even more excited and up for the challenge! The spices, flavors and ingredients of Indian cuisine are so varied, rich and complex that it’s surprisingly not that difficult for the humble lentil to turn into a bowlful of vibrant flavor and color.
After experimenting with several legumes, I have come to value the simple Mung Bean the most. High in protein, rich in fiber, low in sugar and fat, and filled with vitamin A, C, E, V and K, potassium, calcium and zink, as well as being easily digestible, I can safely say that the Mung bean is a nutritional powerhouse. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’d certainly choose this as my preferred protein on any given day.
I love making an Indian stewy Dal with dried mung beans- filling, flavorful and soul warming. Vegetarian and Gluten Free (if you don’t eat it with the bread!)
Simple Mung Bean Dal
1 Cup Dried Mung Beans
4-5 Cups of Water
1 tablespoon of Ghee or Canola Oil
4 teaspoons Garlic Paste
4 teaspoons of Ginger Paste, or 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 Small yellow onion finely diced
2 small tomatoes diced
1 teaspoon of cumin seed
1 teaspoon of fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon of each spice: Tumeric, Garam masala, Cayenne pepper (you can add more if you like it spicier)
Salt to taste
What to do!
- Soak Mung Beans overnight in plenty of room temperature water
- Drain and Rinse well the next day
- Place into a large pot with 4-5 cups of fresh water
- Simmer until gently boiling and tender and soft about 30-45 mins. (Some people like it more mushy- if you do, you can boil for longer- you really can’t over cook mung beans)
- In another pan, add the ghee until hot, then add the fennel and cumin seed to the hot pan. Let the flavors release.
- To this add the diced onion and let it soften until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the diced tomatoes, garlic paste, ginger, and spices. Add in a little more ghee if necessary. Stir until all the flavors are mixed together.
- Pour this mixture into the cooked mung beans. Stir well, and heat on a low simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Feel free to add in more water if the mixture is too thick and dry.
- Taste! Add in salt and extra spices as desired.
- Garnish with fresh mint or cilantro, and eat with fresh naan, roti or chapati bread.
For a more varied mung bean dal, I also add in other veggies like sweet potato, broccoli or cauliflower which all go great. Boil them until tender and add into the mixture with the tomatoes.
Enjoy your nutritious and delicious Indian meal!