Mung Bean Bhaji / Mung Bean Pakora/ Mugachi Bhaji / Hare Mung Ki Bhajiya / हिरव्या मुगाची  भजी 

A pakoda or pakora is a deep-fried Indian snack typically made with besan or gram flour batter and usually some sort of vegetable. Onion is a popular choice. In Britain, it’s called onion bhaji. But pakoras can be made with pretty much any vegetable – spinach, cauliflower, green peppers, potatoes to name but a few.

This pakora recipe is slightly off the beaten track. It celebrates the much underrated whole green mung bean we call ‘mung’ or ‘moong’ in India. But the reason I feel especially excited about this recipe is that these mung beans were harvested at my parent’s farm in India. The privilege of cooking with homegrown produce is hard to explain. But don’t worry, good quality mung beans are widely available and equally suited to this recipe.

What’s with the term ‘bhaji’?

‘Bhaji’ is a Marathi word for pakoras and pronounced to rhyme with ‘budgie’ but with an aspirated ‘b’ at the beginning. 

In Maharashtra, bhaji is a catch-all term for fritters or pakoras made with any kind of vegetable.

About this recipe

This mung bean bhaji or mung bean pakora is prepared using dried whole mung beans with their green skins. Instead of preparing a besan batter, which is more typical for most pakoras or bhajiya, this one is simply prepared in its own soaked and ground mung bean batter. The grainy texture of coarsely chopped or ground mung beans lends a delicious crispiness to the bhaji or pakora. Moreover, I have mixed in some extra whole mung beans to elevate the crunch. The usual suspects for any bhaji namely onions, fresh coriander and spices are also present in this uber tasty, crispy on the outside and soft inside Indian snack. The end result is a tantalisingly savoury bite of deep-fried onions, coated with a coarsely ground batter and a surprise crunch of deep-fried mung beans. 

Mung bean pakora

How do mung bean pakoras taste?

The main flavour comes from the nutty and subtly sweet soaked mung beans which are wonderfully complemented by savoury-sweet notes of caramelized onions and spices. The fresh coriander, Indian borage leaves and green mung work in symphony for a herbaceous crunch. Each bite has a surprise hidden within.

What are the key ingredients in this bhajiya or bhaji or pakora?

Dried green mung beans, also called green gram, are the key ingredient. These are bullet-shaped green beans and are tangibly more nutritious than their polished little cousin – the split and skinned green gram lentil we call mung dal. Both have a delicious flavour but the whole mung beans retain the extra nuttiness and roughage of their skins. These can be sourced from most UK  supermarkets. Failing that you will find a bag of these dried beans in Indian grocery stores. Order from here if you still can’t find it anywhere.

Onions – You can use any kind of onion- white, brown or red will do the job as long as you’re aware that each of these have their own spicy flavour. But the base flavour needed to complete this pakora or bhaji will be the same. Moreover, their high moisture content helps bind the batter without needing to add water that would dilute the flavours.

Fresh coriander – get the freshest bunch available and please don’t discard the stalks for this recipe. A combination of stalks and leaves will do well in this recipe. The coriander must be rinsed before chopping as it can be gritty. Simply soak it in a large bowl full of water and using your hands tease out any mud. The debris will settle at the bottom of the bowl while you lift out the whole coriander.

Besan or Bengal gram flour or chickpea flour – is only used in small amount to bind all the ingredients together in this recipe. Most supermarkets sell ‘besan’ these days. If you still can’t find it, order it here

Spices –  Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder

Fresh green chillies

Fresh ginger

Eno or baking soda – both contain bicarbonate of soda which further helps crisps up the pakora. It becomes light and fluffy inside. Only a pinch is needed.

Indian borage leaf or Mexican mint leaf – I add this to make the pakoras more flavoursome and to aid in digestion. These leaves have a flavour and fragrance of carom seeds. I have the plant at home so I use it liberally where applicable. Feel free to use carom seeds instead, if you don’t have Indian borage leaves. 

Optional ingredients:

Rice flour – is generally added to the pakora batter for extra crunch. However, as there is enough texture and crunch in the coarsely ground mung beans, I saw no place for it in this recipe. If you add rice flour, do leave a comment and let me know whether it made any difference to the texture of the pakora.

Mung bean bhaji

Can I use split mung lentils or split green gram with skin on?

Of course, you can. Just make sure whilst blitzing in a grinder it doesn’t become too fine too quickly. Also, the extra crunch from whole mung beans will be lacking in the final pakora.

Can I air fry these mung bean pakoras?

Yes, you can but it won’t have quite the same flavour as deep fried ones, though it will certainly be less calorific.  Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes or as per the instructions for your fryer. Place bite-sized dollops of batter, evenly spaced, in the air fryer and fry for 12-15 minutes at 175C. 

What are the variations on these mung and onion bhaji?

Instead of using onions, you can use spring onions and/or another veggie of your choice. Potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, green peppers, and aubergines – you name it.

Serving 

These whole mung onion bhaji are best enjoyed with chai (Indian tea) in my opinion. I serve it with my raw mango chutney which I squirrel away in my freezer when raw mangoes are in season. Many would also say that a green, spicy-tangy coriander and mint chutney makes the perfect pairing. For some ketchup hits the spot. Serve with the condiments of your choice. 

Storage

The bhajiya are best enjoyed warm. Once deep fried, allow them to sit at room temperature for 3- 5 minutes and they’ll crisp up even more. If you decide to refrigerate, lay them in a kitchen paper-lined airtight container. They will become soft but you can re-fry them or crisp them up in the oven before serving.

If you wish to freeze them then allow them to cool first. Then put them in a ziplock or sandwich bag. Re-heat from frozen in the oven or air fryer. If air-frying, ensure they’re kept spaced apart. Re-heat them in a preheated air fryer for 7-10 minutes at 175C.

Mung Bean Bhaji / Mung Bean Pakora/ Mugachi Bhaji / Hare Mung Ki Bhajiya

Recipe by RieethaaCourse: SnacksCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

25

bhaji / pakora
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes
Soaking time

6

hours
Total time

50

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the batter
  • 100g dried moong beans

  • 3 tbsp Bengal gram flour or chickpea flour or besan

  • 4 green chillies

  • 1.5 cm fresh ginger

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 3-4 Indian borage leaves or Mexican mint leaves

  • ¼ tsp carom seeds

  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

  • ½ tsp Eno fruit salt or baking soda

  • Salt to taste

  • For frying the pakora/bhaji
  • 40g dried moong beans

  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced

  • 20g fresh coriander, chopped

  • Rapeseed oil for deep frying

Directions

  • Rinse (100g + 40g) of moong beans and soak them separately overnight in lukewarm water.
  • Next day, drain the 40g portion and leave aside.
  • Also, drain the 100g portion and transfer to a chopper/grinder. Add the green chillies, ginger, cumin seeds, Indian borage leaves, carom seeds and chop or coarsely grind them together.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the gram flour/ besan along with the chilli powder, Eno/baking soda and mix everything together by hand to make a dough.
  • Massage in the sliced onion to infuse the dough with its juices and help the dough hold its shape. There’s no need to add water.
  • Tip in the soaked beans from step 2 along with the chopped coriander and mix everything together by hand to form a semi-dry batter
  • Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or a deep-bottomed frying pan or a kadhai, over a medium flame until it’s smoking hot. This could take up to 5 minutes. To test if it’s hot enough for frying, drop a smidgen of the batter into the fryer or kadhai. If it fries quickly and floats to the top, the oil is hot enough for deep frying.
  • Carefully drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the hot oil making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You can either drop the lumps of batter into the hot oil with a spoon or by hand. Each lump will have a different shape and will look quite craggy. Let them fry for 45-60 seconds to firm up before moving around with a perforated spoon to brown evenly. Fry for another 30-60 seconds.
  • Collect all the bhajis using a perforated spoon. Drain the excess oil from each bhaji, by holding the spoon against the edges of the frying pan or kadhai.
  • Transfer the bhaji into a wide bowl lined with paper towel or kitchen paper. Allow them to rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with chai, ketchup or chutney of your choice.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Feel free to add turmeric powder and asafoetida to the batter. I have tried to keep the recipe as minimal as possible.
  • Do not add water whilst grinding/chopping the mung beans.
  • Ensure a coarsely chopped or ground mung bean dough is formed.
  • Do not add water whilst preparing the dough/batter. Instead, squeeze the sliced onion to soak the batter in its juices. It should then hold its shape.
  • When deep frying, the oil must be hot otherwise the lumps of batter may disintegrate and the mung beans come apart from the batter.
  • I used Kenwood tri-blade stick blender. It comes with a chopper attachment which did a great job of chopping or coarsely grinding the mung beans.

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Try these moong bean pakora or bhajia with my tangy raw mango chutney

Kairichi Chutney / Raw Mango Chutney / कैरीची चटणी

Raw mango chutney


If you liked this Moong Bean Bhaji/ Pakora, you’ll love my Mexican mint or Indian borage leaf pakora

Indian Borage Leaf Pakoras / Carom Leaf Pakora / Ajwain Patta Pakoda / ओव्याच्या पानांची भजी

The carom pakoras are kept in a bowl alongside some ketchup


Have you tried these steamed coriander bites that taste similar to pakoras or bhaji?

Kothimbir Vadi / कोथिंबीर वडी /Steamed Coriander bites

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