The Mung Beans and the Rutabaga Two Unusual Ingredients Curry Favor!

I love the challenge of the CSA.  Every Wednesday we get a bag of vegetables from a local farm and in our case it is supplemented with grains, fruit, legumes and eggs.  You have a rough idea of what will be in the bag–and what won’t–but there’s always a surprise.  It’s like your own little Iron Chef competition at home.

This week the challenge was on.  A grapefruit sized rutabaga was in the bag.  This long maligned poster child for winter vegetables has a simple elephantine beauty.

The Rutabaga

I knew it had the ability to be delicious, but it wouldn’t be as simple as slicing a fresh summer tomato and serving it.

We also received a bag of Mung Beans.  These tiny legumes resemble green peppercorns.  Fans of the TV show The Office will remember that the creepy character Creed keeps Mung beans in his desk drawer and “they smell like death’.  Well I think Creed was sprouting them and these were dried.  They did not smell like anything.  The next morning before work I put the mung beans in water to soak.  I was determined to make these unlikely ingredients into something my family would enjoy.

I was inspired by a note left at the CSA pick-up site about an Indian recipe for mung beans.  I got to thinking that these beans, and the rutabaga could become the foundation for a great curry style dish.  I also happened to have some Indian Chapati Bread I had purchased which needed only to be heated on a dry skillet and it was delicious!

Roti-Chapati. Quick and easy Indian bread at home

I started with some basic Indian spices.  Turmeric, black mustard seeds, and whole cumin seeds, about a teaspoon of each.  It’s such a wonderful start because the spices look like the beginning of a work of art with their earthen colors and warm complimentary aromas.

I heated oil in a sauce pan and cooked these spices in the oil for about a minute until I could hear the seeds popping like popcorn.  (Note:  Put the lid on the pan!) 

Simple yet beautiful palate of spices
Once the seeds started popping, I added chopped garlic, ginger (I did not have fresh ginger root so I used dry ginger), coriander, ground cumin and a small amount of sugar.  I also salted it.
This cooked for a few minutes and when the garlic had mixed with the spices and permeated the kitchen I added the rutabaga.  I had peeled it and cut it into a medium-sized dice.  I sautéed this and watched it take on the characteristic yellow color of any dish made with turmeric.  Once it had sautéed a bit I added a can of diced tomatoes, covered it and let it simmer on low for 20 minutes.
During that time I put the mung beans in fresh water and boiled them for the same 20 minutes.  When both were done I combined them, removed them from the heat and added a double handful of fresh baby spinach which had also come that week in the CSA bag.  This added bright color and flavor.
The result was a complete success!  When told that morning that we were having mung beans and rutabaga for dinner everyone began to make alternate plans.  When it was served with the Chapati bread it had an authentic flavor, a beautiful look and was the surprise hit of the week! 
The finished dish, as pretty as it is delicious!

 The mung beans could easily be replaced with lentils, or really any dried bean (and lentils would not require soaking).  The rutabaga likewise could be replaced by any firm strong vegetable such as turnips or beets.  I hold this up as one more reason why I’m a fan of the CSA.  I doubt that I would have ever walked into the grocery store and bought these ingredients, and yet they were delicious, in season, and locally available. 



  1. Sounds delicious. Perhaps next time you could test it with Bimbo Bread on the side, rather than Chapati bread…

  2. I am totally inspired to try a variation on this! “Make curry that tastes good” is an item on my bucket list–and one that I thought would be on there forever. But, perhaps I will be able to cross it off the list!

  3. I had to add a note here as I had the opportunity to visit home the day after mung beans were on the menu, and i actually heard my sister ask if there was “any of that mung bean rutabaga stuff from last night left?” I thought she was joking! Great job making the kids like it!

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