Friday, 27 January 2012

Green Gram or Moong

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
Roasted Split Moong Dal
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.
Moong Dal Payasam: Not great food photography, but it's both healthy and tasty.


  1. That dish sounds lovely, but goodness knows where I would find jaggery in the UK (Bradford, perhaps). My oldest daughter's first solid food was dal too - which must be unusual for a Westerner!

    1. Hi Mark, Jaggery has a lot of minerals and is healthier than sugar so I wish it were more popular. But here's a jaggery substitute I found on the net. For 1 cup of jaggery, use 1 cup of dark brown sugar with two teaspoons of molasses.

  2. vasanti said:

    Payasam looks good.

  3. Hi Anita, I was just going to make a similar comment to Mark's. I have a couple of very good Indian supermarkets nearby so maybe I'll have some luck finding jaggery there? Would palm sugar work?

    1. Hi Veggiegobbler, I think palm sugar will be much better than white sugar. Of course, jaggery is the ingredient to use if you can. For someone like me who's accustomed to eating the dish made with jaggery, other substitutes may seem a little strange. But if you're not particular, I suppose even white sugar would suffice.

  4. Hi Anita,
    I make moong dal dosa with their skins. My son doesn't like the taste of the skins, so I make it milder by grinding some soaked rice along with the dal. as our kids seem to be about the same age, maybe you can try it.
    Thanks for the recipe of payasam, will try it for dessert soon.

    1. Hi Chitra, I love moong dal dosa and so does my son, with skins and all. I haven't made it in a while. Now that you've reminded me, I think I will make it again.

  5. Wow! I am going to use my moong to grow some plants. How big the plants grow? why did you say that some are not edible? You have a nice blog.

    1. My moong plant was in a small container and didn't grow very well. Also, the squirrels trampled over them and so they're now heading to the compost bin. :( But I'd like to clarify; the moong wasn't inedible. The harvest was just too little. I think I got less than a tablespoon of moong from this one plant. So I suppose you'll need to plant several moong to get a decent harvest.

  6. Looks scrumptious. Since going veg/vegan 7 some odd years ago, Indian cuisine has become my home food. IE comforting to come back to after eating other foods in between. Mostly punjabi styles but I cannot pass up something from the southern parts of the continent as well!!

  7. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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