Spring Monkey Beans (Mung Beans and Rice)

Kitchari: mung beans and rice

Full disclosure: I have not always been a fan of mung beans and rice.  I had seen people at school do "mung bean cleanses" and eat little bowls of mush all day and look pale and weak.  I thought it seemed somewhat tortuous.  I would have totally written them off had it not been for my mom, who gave them a bit of a makeover and finally convinced me to try them.  It just so happens mung beans and rice are an incredibly healing food and in her skilled hands have turned out to be a go-to recipe during busy weeks.   

  • The stew contains the powerful trifecta of onions, garlic, and ginger that are great for maintaining healthy gut flora and promoting healthy digestion

  • The wonderful spice mix of turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, garam masala, and cumin is anti-inflammatory

  • Together, the beans and rice form a complete protein and are easy to digest and assimilate

  • Full of an assortment of vegetables, it is a nutritional powerhouse

Below is her recipe for what was misunderstood by my dad as "Monkey Beans" and has lovingly become the dish's new name.  Serves 4-6. 

Spice Mix

These are the proportions I like, but feel free to adjust and modify to your taste.  

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
cardamom seeds from 5 pods (smash with side of knife to break and remove seeds)
1/2 TBS turmeric
1 tsp garam masala

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast fenugreek, coriander, cumin and cardamom just until fragrant.  Let cool.  Grind in spice grinder or coffee grinder.  Combine with turmeric and garam masala.  

Toasting the spices, extracts the oils and gives you a wonderfully flavored dish; however, if you're pressed for time, you can use: 1 tsp turmeric, 1.5 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom. 

Spring Monkey Beans

1/2 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup mung beans
3 TBS ghee (or extra virgin olive oil)
2 heaping TBS of spice mix (see above)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalk, diced
1 cup English peas
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced
Redmond’s real salt

Put rice and mung beans to soak in a bowl with water.  Leave overnight.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat ghee to medium-low, add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add carrots, celery and ginger and sauté for another 5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.  Add garlic and mix for 1 minute.  Mix in spices.  Add mung beans and rice, peas, ½ tsp salt, and cover with 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil, cover and return heat to low for it to simmer.  Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water, if needed.  Mix in kale and cook just until it wilts. Taste for seasoning.  Serve topped with avocado. 

A few recipe notes: adjust the vegetables according to the season.  In the cold months, winter squashes are lovely and roasted cauliflower is a nice topping with the avocado.  In the summer, some zucchini and peppers would work.  Don't have kale? Try any dark leafy green (spinach or chard would be worthy substitutes).  Need a little more protein?  Some wild salmon, chicken breast, or grass-fed beef can be added to round out your meal.