Mung beans, or green gram, are little green seeds with a yellow inside.
Mung beans are used for both sweet and savoury dishes in Indian cooking. They are eaten whole, sprouted, split with the skins on and split with the skins removed. Mung dal is the split, skin-off variant, and is one of the most commonly used lentils in western India.
Mung beans with their skins on have a green leafy vegetable flavour. Mung dal – split, with the skins removed – has a mild sweet flavour.
Green gram is a most versatile product. Soaked green gram can be used to make salads, chaat and vegetable curries. Cooked green gram can be used in kheer, dal and khichdi. Moong sprouts can be used in salads and soups. A kheer of moong together with jaggery, coconut, milk and bananas is popular in south India. Whole moong dal can be soaked in water and the paste used to prepare moong dal dosa or uttappams.
Fresh mung beans are available from good supermarkets, and greengrocers. Always buy the freshest you can. Moong dal is available from Indian grocers. Always rinse your dal before using it to remove and debris.
The fresh beans will only last a few days, even if refrigerated. The dal will keep for some months if stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry and dark place.