spiced bangladeshi mung beans and rice

I didn’t intend to post on this, but it begs to be shared. Born from the need to make lots of healthy food to sustain us through a busy week, it materialized one afternoon between work sessions. The recipe is from a former roommate, and it’s the kind of thing you’ll almost always have the ingredients for.

Usually when I think of mung beans, bean sprouts jump to mind. But this showcases them as the meaty, chewy legume they were born to be. OK, maybe beans don’t have destinies, but we can pretend. You can find them dried in Asian grocery stores, and all they need is a couple hours’ soak.

You start off by frying some fragrant spices in oil, add your beans and rice, top it with some water and set it to simmer. It’s that easy, and it all happens in one happy wok. It’s incredibly low-maintenance, great for a busy work day.

It’s hard to get sick of this (even after day 5) because you can dress it up in so many different ways. By adding sweet caramelized onions, a sliced hard boiled egg, and a side of yogurt, it becomes like an Indian curry—a platform for all sorts of tasty additions. You could make fried rice out of it one evening, and wrap it up in some flatbread with slices of baked tofu the next.

Sometimes a bowl of beans and rice, redolent of mild chai, can remind you that it’s good to be alive. Perhaps that’s a stretch, but it makes me appreciate the simple things.

Spiced Bangladeshi Mung Beans and Rice

makes a lot

2 Tbsp grapeseed, or peanut oil

1 bay leaf

1 ½ t. ginger root, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 c mung beans, soaked

2 c basmati rice, rinsed, raw

1 tsp ground cinnamon

6 whole cloves

1 tsp red pepper flakes

boiling water

1 tsp salt

Toppings: caramelized onions, hard-boiled eggs, raisins

  1. Set 6 cups of water to boil in a kettle. Heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat and fry the ginger, garlic, and bayleaf briefly.
  2. Add the soaked and drained mung beans, the raw rice,  cinnamon, cloves, and pepper flakes. Fry for 5 minutes.
  3. Add 6 cups boiling water and 1 tsp salt. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes on low.

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