The Indian people display a special genius for the legume family. I've never eaten a dal I didn't like. So when you grown bored with American-style beans, head over to an Indian grocer. Check out the rainbow of dals, both split and whole, that line the shelves. You may feel inspired to start making Indian bean soups. (Indian beans are still quite cheap.) If you don't live near an Indian grocer, order some Indian beans online. Dried beans travel well.
Some places online to buy Indian beans:
Indian Foods Co.
I Shop Indian
This particular soup was inspired by three fancier recipes created by Mark Bittman, who is not Indian and therefore tends to use more accessible ingredients in his recipes. I was able to make the entire soup in an hour. It won't take as long if you use split moong beans. I used whole. Whole moong beans are olive green in color with a tiny white stripe (see above).
Serves 4 to 8, depending on who's counting
Moong Bean Tomato Soup
1 Cup whole moong beans (dried)
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, washed
6 Cups or 48 fluid ounces of vegetable broth (I use Imagine No-Chicken)
salt and pepper
Equipment: 1 medium pot, 1 small pot
- Wash the moong beans, being careful to pick through and make sure there aren't any small stones.
- Put moong beans and the vegetable broth in the medium pot. Heat on medium-high heat until boiling. Lower to a bare simmer, cover tightly, and cook 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, fill the small pot with water. Bring to a boil.
- Cut a small X in the bottom of the tomato. Blanch it in the boiling water by immersing it for 30 to 60 seconds. Take it out, let it cool a few minutes, and then peel off the skin with your fingers. Chop the tomato into small pieces.
- Add the tomato to the moong bean soup—it doesn't matter where in the cooking process it is.
- When the beans finish cooking, have a sip. Don't double-dip the spoon! Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy hot.
Optional additions: fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cayenne