Monggo guisado! One of my comfort foods. Sometimes I just want to have a steaming hot bowl of this with rice. It’s a dish we commonly had at home in Manila. It’s filling, nutritious and it can be modified in so many ways to suit your mood or whatever veggies you have lying around.
Simply translated, monggo guisado (or guisadong monggo) means sauteed mung beans. Mung beans are green, yellow or red little beans that have an earthy flavor. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine, even in desserts!
Like other legumes, mung beans are a good source of protein, fiber and many other nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Soaking mung beans for at least a few hours makes the nutrients more easily absorbed by your body, and if you want to boost the iron you absorb from plant foods like mung beans and leafy greens, consume something high in vitamin C with your meal. In one cup of cooked mung beans, you’re getting 15 g of fiber and 14 g of protein1, about half and 20-25% of the recommended daily intake, respectively. Isn’t that awesome?
The beauty of monggo guisado is that it can easily be made vegetarian/vegan, or not at all if you don’t want it to be! Many Filipinos cook it with pork or top it with tinapa (smoked fish), fried dilis (anchovies), chicharon (fried pork rind) or bagoong (fermented seafood paste). All this may sound really exotic but check your pantry and refrigerator and use whatever you have lying around!
For us though, since we cook mostly vegetarian food at home in Delhi, I tried to make a vegan/vegetarian version of this dish, but in the end I decided to add a little fish sauce :p It’s completely optional though! Well, I am all about reducing my consumption of animal products, not eliminating them from my diet. I like the balance we have of plant and animal foods, for health, environmental and ethical reasons.
When I moved here last October, I had a hard time adjusting and I missed many of things I was used to, food being one of them. How I missed coconut milk and how easy it was to get it freshly squeezed in Manila! We would buy bags of it and just keep them in the freezer. I really missed our home’s ginataang gulay (vegetables with seafood cooked in coconut milk) and ginataang halo-halo (root crops, ripe plantains and tapioca balls cooked in sweetened coconut milk).. yes, I love coconut milk 😀
Filipino food is the opposite of Indian food in the way that it’s so simply cooked and flavored, and there is beauty in that as well. This is one of the dishes I would cook sometimes because the ingredients were easily available here in Delhi. Aside from it being good on its own, it’s also a good base to which you can add other things to make it taste different. You could cook it with pork, or top it with various things, whatever floats your boat. You could add coconut milk to make it creamier, and to that you could also add Indian spices and you’d have a more Indian type of dish, like what I did here, or Thai curry paste, and you’d have a Thai style dish! You can top it with roasted squash/pumpkin and use whatever type of green leafy vegetable you have on hand. Traditionally, it is moringa or bitter gourd or chili leaves, but I just use spinach because that’s what I can find here. I love it with moringa though. You can do so many things with this dish to suit your tastes and to make it different every time!
For photography purposes, I topped the mung beans with blanched whole spinach and chopped onion and tomato. But for the flavors to really come together in your mouth, this would be really good if you chop your leafy greens to a small size (or use moringa! It has tiny leaves). Then you can cook it along with the onion and tomato for a few minutes and this will add a fresh flavor and texture to this rich, stew-like dish. If, however, you prefer not to chop your greens, the flavor comes together well when the veggies are cooked soft. Btw, Anugrah took this photo that I just found hilarious!!
I hope you try this dish out. It’s Filipino-Indian fusion, just like me 😀 Leave a comment below and tell me what you think!
Monggo Guisado Curry-fied! (Filipino-Inspired Mung Beans)
For Cooking Separately
- 1 cup green mung beans, whole, dried
- 5 cups water, divided
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp canola oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)
- 2 large onions, minced, divided
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 inch ginger, grated
- 2-3 green chilis, deseeded (adjust or don’t deseed for your desired heat level and the type of chili you are using)
- 2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and chopped, divided
- green mung beans, cooked
- 3 cups water
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)
- 1 1/4 tsp curry powder
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
- 3 cups fresh spinach, moringa, chard or other leafy green (or sub frozen)
For Cooking Separately
- Soak 1 cup of mung beans in 3 cups of water for 4 hours.
- Drain the water and cook the mung beans with 2 cups of water and 1/2 tbsp of salt in a pressure cooker for two whistles (around 10 minutes on high flame). Let the pressure release on its own.
Alternatively, you can boil it in a pot and it will take around 20 minutes to cook.
- Drain the water from the mung beans and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- On medium flame, saute 1 large minced onion and garlic until fragrant. (You could also brown the onions first then add the garlic if you want a stronger Indian flavor.)
- Add the grated ginger, green chilis and 1 large chopped tomato and let it cook for around 3-4 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 1/4 tsp of curry powder and 1/8 tsp of black pepper, then add in the cooked mung beans, mix it around and saute for 2-3 minutes. [This is why the dish’s name literally means sauteed mung beans!]
- Add 3 cups of water and 2/3 cup of coconut milk. Increase the flame to high and bring this to a boil, then let it simmer for around 10-15 minutes. You want the flavor of the spices and coconut milk to really get into those beans!
- Add in the chopped onions and tomatoes and cook for around 2 minutes.
- Add in your leafy greens and cook until desired doneness.
- Add the fish sauce (if using) and adjust the consistency and seasonings to your taste. Do you like it thicker, soupier, creamier/more coconuty, maybe with more curry powder, black pepper or salt? Then you can cook it for longer or add coconut milk to make it thicker, or add water to make it thinner. If you are adding curry powder, cook it for a few minutes more. Curry powder that’s “uncooked” is a little raw and harsh in flavor.
- Serve with a bowl of rice. Brown rice tastes awesome with this dish!