Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mung Bean Soup ~ Cure for the Common Cold

A few days ago, my friend Chef Alison posted the following article about Turmeric.

Over the weekend, my immune system seemed to be taking a dive.  I was feeling run down and I knew it was time to stop it before it settled in.  Normally, at the first sign of a cold I start craving spicy foods.  This started when I was in college and I needed relief from a sore throat.  I would gargle with warm salt and cayenne water.  Since my cold was caused by germs then why, not burn them out with cayenne?    Organic farmers have used a cayenne solution to ward off bugs from their plants and vegetables so I say why not use it to ward off cold bugs?  Ok, so it's not exactly a scientific theory, but it works and is much less expensive than OTC cold remedies.  
I wanted a nice warm soup using ingredients I have on hand because 1. I don't feel like going to the grocery store and 2. It's snowing in GA and I don't want to drive in it (I'm a desert girl - I don't mix well with snow).  In the end, I decided to go with an Indian inspired soup.  I pulled out my Indian spices: turmeric, cayenne, Indian Chili powder, mustard seeds and dried chilies.  Turmeric  is one of the strongest antiseptics known to man so I thought it would be a great addition.  Traditionally, it has been considered good as an expectorant for children’s irritating cough, dissolved in milk. Grandmas across Asia recommend a glassful of milk with two teaspoonfuls of turmeric to asthmatic and bronchitic children. It is said to have the ability to clear phlegm and reduce spasms of asthma. Turmeric powder combined with caraway seeds or bishop’s weed is considered an effective cure for colds in children. 

There is very little that is more comforting for the chilly, snowy weather than a combination of beans (lentils or mung beans) combined into a thick nourishing soup with warming spices. Quick and easy to make--this is a great soup for those who enjoy Indian creations, you will not be disappointed.   

This recipes is loosely based on a recipe from 660 Curries.  I no longer own this book, but I feel I must give credit because their version was my inspiration.  Also, I apologize I didn't take too many photos because I was feeling run down. 
Mung Bean Soup ~ Cure for the Common Cold

1 cup of mung beans
a few teaspoons of oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon asafetida ***

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 Tablespoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon dried red chilies
1 teaspoon
Indian Chili powder
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
a small handful of
dried curry leaves
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 can of coconut milk
juice from one small lime
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Stir and fry until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to pop. Now add the turmeric, cayenne, ground cumin, ground coriander and asafetida. Stir and then add the onion, green chilies, curry leaves and ginger. Stir occasionally and fry for a few minutes. 

Soak the mung beans overnight in enough water to cover the tops. Drain and transfer to a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer covered until the beans are tender - roughly 20-40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Now add the celery, carrots, and onion - cook for another few minutes. 

Add the cooked mung beans to the pot, along with the coconut milk, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and roughly 1 cup of water. Bring to a partial boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes.

Serves 6

The soup definitely did the trick.  I woke up on Sunday feeling refreshed and no traces of a sore throat.   Obviously, I'm not a medical doctor, but sometimes its good to try folk remedies.  For centuries cayenne, turmeric and even asafoetida have been used to cure the common colds.  Why not try it before reaching for Nyquil?

***  Asafoetida has broad uses in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial, with well documented uses for treating chronic bronchitis and whooping cough, as well as reducing flatulence.

COOKS NOTE: if you don't have mung beans, feel free to use lentils (red, green or French Lentils).  You can also use chickpeas, navy beans, etc.  
All the spices can be found at your local Indo-Pak store.  There are several in the Marietta/Kennesaw areas.  Or visit our online store to order your spices.

1 comment:

  1. Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa (ninjiom-hk.cwahi.net) may be another solution to sore throat. i know a lot of people use it, its also non alcoholic, though it's effectiveness is not as good as alcohol based cough medicine, but it's still good to use on not so serious sore throat.