This mung bean curry makes for such an amazing plant-based comfort food dinner recipe. It includes mung beans (or green gram), coconut milk, spices and tomatoes. This recipe is wholesome and easy to make, plus completely dairy-free and gluten-free.
Here is an amazing vegan comfort food recipe you need to try next time you crave a cozy bowl of warm curry: Mung bean curry.
You might know this dish by one of its other names, "Green gram curry" or "Sabut moong dal", which is simply a creamy curry stew made with whole mung beans.
I discovered mung beans a while ago on Drs. Ayesha's Instagram account and we have been incorporating these healthy tiny beans in many of our meals since then.
Mung beans are easy to get online and they are similar in shape to lentils. They have a mild flavor, which makes them a valuable nutrient-dense addition to various dishes, such as salads, stews, soups and our favorite, vegan curries.
This mung bean coconut curry recipe actually reminds me of my lentil coconut curry in terms of texture: it is ultra-creamy, rich and earthy. This time, I used a combination of cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric and garam masala spices to flavor the Indian gravy, which was just on point and paired well with the tangy tomatoes and sweet coconut milk.
Serve over rice or with a side of crusty bread to dip in the flavorful curry stew, this recipe makes for such an amazing weeknight dinner your whole family will love.
Let me know if you gave it a try! ❤️
What are mung beans?
Mung beans, also called "green gram" or "Moong beans" are a type of pulse omnipresent in Indian cooking, but they are also widely used in various Southeast Asian countries (Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, etc). They are used to make stir fry meals, curries, salads and even sweet dishes.
How do they look like?
They are a tiny round beans with a green skin about the size of brown lentils. They come in different shapes, such as whole (sabut moong), split with the skin on (moong dal chilka) or split without the skin (moong dhuli, those look yellow since they don't have the green husk anymore). Compared to whole mung beans, split beans cook faster and contain a little less fiber.
Piping Pot Curry has an amazing guide on Indian pulses you can read if you are looking to find more information on mung beans.
How do they taste?
Mung beans do not carry much flavor and they have an earthy texture which, once more, might remind you of brown or green lentils. They actually are a little sweet! Whole mung beans tend to hold on to their shape while simmering in a broth, similar to French lentils.
Mung bean nutrition
Mung beans are known for their high nutritive value and all the health benefits they have to offer, making them such an amazing ingredient to enhance the nutritional profile of your meals.
They are especially high in plant-based protein, which is a valuable asset for the mostly vegetarian or vegan populations in India. They are also high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Why you should try this recipe
- Easy and straightforward recipe
- Healthy and packed with fiber, protein and antioxidants
- Ultra creamy and rich in texture
- Flavor-packed meal filled with aromatic spices
- Filling and satisfying
- Mung beans can be easier to digest compared to other beans!
- Vegan and dairy-free
What you will need
- Mung beans: for making this recipe, you will need the green mung beans (whole beans), NOT the yellow split mung beans (they have different cooking times and liquid ratios). I bought a bag of mung beans (whole) from the brand "Food to Live" online, but you can also find them in some general grocery stores and health stores.
- Onion: helps add flavor to the curry, I used a yellow onion, but you can also use a sweet onion.
- Fresh garlic and ginger: essential for making curry! Do not swap for ginger or garlic powder. I used 5 cloves of garlic to get a ton of flavor in the stew, but use less if you are sensitive to garlic.
- Tomatoes: I like fresh tomatoes better for making curries compared to canned tomatoes, but if you don't have them, then you can swap for a can of 15 oz petite diced tomatoes.
- Cumin seeds: a classic in making a mung bean curry, they add so much flavor! But if you don't have them, simply omit them.
- Ground spices: a mix of turmeric, cumin, garam masala and coriander powder was used to flavor the Indian gravy. Making a curry is very versatile and you can add more to it, such as paprika or curry powder.
- Vegetable stock: swap for water if you don't have it. I like using the Better than Bouillon concentrated vegetable broth.
- Coconut milk: try using full-fat coconut milk if you can for the best creamy result. Also, make sure it is unsweetened!
- Lime: fresh lime juice helps brighten up the flavor, can be swapped for lemon juice.
- Cilantro: optional.
How to make an easy mung bean curry
This is a very easy recipe that should not take more than 60 minutes to make with most of that time being hands-off cooking.
If you want to serve it with rice, then you might want to get started by cooking it as it can take up to 40 minutes (especially if using brown rice).
Cook the aromatics
Warm up a large pan (heavy bottom pans work well) with a little oil (I used a little olive oil) and then, add the cumin seeds. Toast the seeds on medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes while stirring constantly (watch so they don't burn). It should become very fragrant and the seeds should turn to a light brown.
Then, add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook for another 5 minutes stirring often.
Add the ginger, garlic and ground spices (ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala and turmeric powder) and stir to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes stirring often.
Simmer the mung beans
Meanwhile, rinse the dry mung beans using a fine mesh colander and fresh cold water.
To the pan with the onion, add the tomatoes, rinsed mung beans and vegetable broth. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Once it is simmering, turn it down to medium heat and cover.
Let the beans simmer until almost completely cooked (tender but still al dente), about 30 minutes. Uncover and stir once in a while so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Finish up and serve
Add the can of coconut milk and lime juice and stir to combine. Keep uncovered and bring back to a simmer. Keep cooking on low heat (or on a gentle simmer) until the curry reaches the desired consistency.
Once done, taste and adjust seasonings and stir in the cilantro, if using.
Serve over rice or/and with a side of bread. Enjoy!
- You have to stay right beside the pan while toasting the cumin seeds. If they burn, start over!
- You can keep about 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk aside for serving. Adding a drizzle of the bright white milk makes the dish so pretty!
- I highly recommend prepping all the ingredients before starting, such as chopping the onion and tomatoes, grating/crushing the ginger and garlic and even measuring the spices and adding them to a bowl. This can help make the cooking process super smooth and prevent burning the ingredients.
This vegan moong bean curry goes great over brown rice or other whole grains, such as barley or farro. Quinoa would also be great and add even more plant-based protein to your meal, plus it cooks faster than rice.
Top your bowl with more cilantro and extra lime wedges to squeeze some yummy zesty juice over. I also like to drizzle extra coconut milk at serving for a nice finish (just set a spoonful from the can aside when making the curry).
Curries are also fun to eat with naan bread or flatbread. Use it to scoop up the delicious sauce! I have made this vegan naan bread recipe from Nora Cooks a few times and it is delicious. It would work well here! Or try serving them with these 1-ingredient red lentil wraps!
We also love curries served with a crusty piece of bread, such as baguette, which is less classic but simply more accessible than naan (store-bought naan usually is not vegan and contains dairy).
This mung bean curry stores well! Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Before serving, give the leftovers a good stir and reheat using the microwave or the stove. If it thickens too much during storage, then simply add a splash of water.
Do I have to soak the mung beans before cooking them?
Some recipes using whole mung beans recommend to soak them before cooking, but this is not necessary. They cook fairly fast, within about 30 minutes!
Can I use split mung beans or moong dal?
I haven’t tried using split mung bean to make this recipe. I think it would work, although I would expect a texture that's more uniform and potentially a little mushy since the split beans might disintegrate in the stew while cooking. If you must use moong dal, then start with a little less broth and add extra water as you go, plus you might need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
More curry recipes to try
- Butter bean curry
- Easy vegan lentil curry
- Tikka masala pasta
- Aubergine and cauliflower curry
- Vegan jackfruit curry
- Black bean curry
- Tofu tikka masala
- One pot broccoli curry ramen
- Chickpea spinach curry
I hope you like this mung bean curry as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Mung Bean Curry (Green Moong Dal Recipe)
- ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 small yellow onion - diced
- 5 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 inch fresh ginger - grated
- 2 cups fresh tomatoes (or about 2 medium tomatoes) - chopped, or 13 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 cup whole mung beans - rinsed and drained
- 4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
- 13.5 oz coconut milk - unsweetened
- ½ lime - juiced
- salt to taste
- handful of cilantro - chopped, optional
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- Warm up a large pan with a little oil and then, add the cumin seeds. Stir and cook on medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Then, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes while stirring often.
- Add garlic, ginger and ground spices, stir and cook for 2 more minutes or until fragrant. Watch so the garlic doesn't burn. Add the tomatoes, rinsed mung beans and vegetable broth. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and cover. You can turn down the heat to low-medium and keep simmering for about 30 minutes stirring once in a while.
- Add the coconut milk and lime juice and stir to combine. Keep cooking uncovered to warm it up and to reach desired consistency (about 7-10 minutes). Stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasoning to your preference, then serve over rice and/or with a side of bread. Enjoy!
- Storage: keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat using the microwave or the stove.
- This recipe calls for whole mung beans, NOT split mung beans (or moong dal).