A while ago, I'd scattered some mung sprouts, which had gone slightly stale, into an empty container. I had expected the sprouts to quickly decay and nourish the soil. Instead, one of the sprouts chose to take root. Destined to bloom, it even survived the recent cyclone Thane, which had denuded some of my other sturdier plants.
|Moong Pods on the Plant|
|Moong Bean Flower|
While the couple of pods that have emerged aren't really worth a nibble, I'm still glad to see this unexpected shoot. It's always nice to know what our food looks like before it reaches the table.
|Dried Green Gram in the Pod|
Green gram or moong beans are extremely versatile. They can be had as fresh sprouts, as dal, as noodles and even as dessert. Moong dal is very easy to digest; in fact it was one of the first solid foods I fed my son. My favourite moong dal recipes include the Pesarattu (similar to a dosa) and Moong Dal Payasam (a lentil pudding). While Indian Payasams/Kheers are milk based, the moong dal payasam from Kerala is the only Indian vegan payasam that I know of. Here's my easy-to-make version of the dish.
Moong Dal Payasam / Parippu Pradhaman
Yellow Split Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Coconut Milk - 100 ml or the milk from 1 coconut
Cardamom (Elaichi) - 3 pods
Water 2 1/3 cups
For the Garnish:
Halved Cashew nuts - a handful.
Raisins - a handful
Chopped coconut pieces - a handful
Enough ghee to fry the above. (Vegans can substitute the ghee with oil.)
My recipe is only mildly sweet, so those of you with a sweet tooth can increase the amount of jaggery.
1. Dry roast the dal in a heavy bottom pan. Once the dal gets a pink tinge and a lovely roasted aroma emanates, consider the roasting done. Wash the roasted dal. Add 2 cups of water and cook it until it is soft. (You could cook it in a pressure cooker for 2 minutes after the first whistle.) Once cooked, most of the lentils should hold their shape. Lightly mash the cooked dal with a spoon or masher.
2. In a separate vessel, melt the jaggery with 1/3 cup of water on a low flame. Be careful not to let the jaggery burn. Add the melted jaggery and crushed cardamom pods to the dal. (Only jaggery can lend the dish its characteristic flavour and dark colour, so try not to substitute jaggery with sugar.)
3. Slowly add the coconut milk to the dal mixture. The mixture should be gently heated over a low flame for 5 minutes, while stirring it all the time. The coconut milk can curdle if it is heated rapidly.
4. Fry the cashew nuts in ghee/oil till they are golden brown. In the same ghee, you could fry the raisins and coconut pieces. The raisins will plump up and the coconut pieces will dry out and turn brown. Add the cashew nuts, raisins and coconut pieces to the payasam.
The payasam will thicken within an hour, and can be had warm or chilled.