Scientific Name: Vigna radiata
Common Names: Green gram, mung bean, moong bean
Family: Fabaceae (Legume family)
Plant Type: Annual herbaceous plant
Plant Description: Green gram plants have long, trailing vines with compound leaves. The flowers are yellow and the fruits are pods that contain seeds.
(Per 100 grams of raw green gram)
Carbohydrates: 63.4 grams
Protein: 24.6 grams
Fat: 1.2 grams
Fiber: 16.3 grams
Vitamin C: 4.8 milligrams
Vitamin K: 0.3 micrograms
Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 0.3 milligrams
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.1 milligrams
Niacin (Vitamin B3): 1.2 milligrams
Folate (Vitamin B9): 274 micrograms
Calcium: 132 milligrams
Iron: 5.7 milligrams
Magnesium: 189 milligrams
Phosphorus: 367 milligrams
Potassium: 1246 milligrams
Zinc: 2.8 milligrams
The term “green gram” is a common English name for the legume known scientifically as Vigna radiata. The name “green gram” refers to the green color of the seed and is a descriptive name used to differentiate it from other types of grams or legumes.
The origin of green gram can be traced back to ancient India. It is believed to have been domesticated in the Indian subcontinent around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The wild progenitor of green gram, Vigna radiata subspecies sublobata, occurs naturally in Mongolia.
Archaeological evidence suggests that carbonized mung beans, a variety of green gram, have been found at various sites in India. Early finds include the eastern zone of the Harappan civilization in Punjab and Haryana, dating back about 4,500 years, and South India in the modern state of Karnataka, dating back over 4,000 years. These findings indicate that green gram cultivation has a long history in the Indian subcontinent.
Some scholars suggest that there may have been two separate domestications of green gram in different regions of India. The northwest and south of India are considered potential regions for these separate domestications. In South India, there is evidence of the evolution of larger-seeded mung beans around 3,500 to 3,000 years ago. By about 3,500 years ago, green gram cultivation had become widespread throughout India.
Cultivated green gram later spread from India to other parts of Asia, including China and Southeast Asia. Archaeobotanical research at the site of Khao Sam Kaeo in southern Thailand indicates that green gram arrived in Thailand by at least 2,200 years ago.
During the era of Swahili trade in the 9th or 10th century, green gram cultivation also spread to Africa, as indicated by findings on Pemba Island.
Today, green gram is grown and consumed in many countries across Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world. It is valued for its nutritional content and versatility in culinary applications.
- Rich in Nutrients: Green gram is packed with essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins (such as vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, and folate), and minerals (such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium). These nutrients are important for overall health and well-being.
- Digestive Health: The high fiber content in green gram helps promote healthy digestion. It adds bulk to the stool, aids in regular bowel movements, and prevents constipation. The fiber also supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
- Blood Sugar Control: Green gram has a low glycemic index, meaning it releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream. This helps regulate blood sugar levels, making it a suitable food choice for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage blood sugar levels.
- Weight Management: Green gram is low in fat and high in fiber and protein, making it a filling food that can support weight management. It helps keep you satiated for longer periods, reducing the chances of overeating and promoting a healthy weight.
- Heart Health: The fiber, potassium, and magnesium content in green grams contribute to heart health. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, while potassium and magnesium help regulate blood pressure. Maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Antioxidant Properties: Green gram contains antioxidants, such as vitamin C and other phytonutrients, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress and may have anti-inflammatory effects.
- Boosts Immunity: The vitamin C content in green gram plays a role in strengthening the immune system. It helps enhance the production of white blood cells and supports the body’s defense against infections and diseases.
- Skin Health: Green gram is believed to have skin benefits when applied topically. Green gram paste or powder can be used as a natural face mask to exfoliate, cleanse, and nourish the skin. It is thought to help improve skin complexion and reduce acne and other skin issues.
- Choose good quality: Look for green grams that are clean, dry, and free from any signs of moisture, mold, or insect damage. They should have a uniform color and texture.
- Check for freshness: Opt for green grams that have a fresh aroma and do not have a rancid or stale smell. Fresh green grams will have a vibrant green color.
- Purchase from trusted sources: Buy green grams from reputable stores or brands to ensure their quality and freshness.
- Store in airtight containers: Transfer the green grams to airtight containers or resealable bags to protect them from moisture, pests, and contaminants. This will help maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage.
- Keep in a cool and dry place: Store green grams in a cool, dry, and dark area, away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and humidity. Exposure to light, heat, and moisture can lead to spoilage and loss of quality.
- Avoid prolonged storage: Green grams are best consumed within a reasonable period to ensure their taste and nutritional value. While they have a long shelf life, it is recommended to use them within a year of purchase for optimal quality.
- Check for signs of spoilage: Regularly inspect the green grams for any signs of mold, discoloration, or unpleasant odors. If you notice any of these signs, discard the affected beans to prevent contamination of the rest.
- Avoid storing cooked green grams: Cooked green grams have a shorter shelf life compared to dried ones. It is best to cook only the amount needed and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days.
Green Gram Recipes
1 cup cooked green gram (mung beans)
1 cucumber, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked green gram, cucumber, tomato, onion, and green chili (if using).
Add lemon juice and sprinkle salt according to taste. Toss well to combine all the ingredients.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Serve the refreshing green gram salad as a healthy and nutritious snack or side dish.
1 cup green gram (mung beans), soaked for a few hours
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, pureed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust according to your spice preference)
1 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
Water for cooking
- Rinse the soaked green gram and cook it in a pressure cooker or a pot until soft. Drain any excess water and set aside.
- In a separate pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
- Add chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
- Add minced garlic and grated ginger. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
- Add tomato puree, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala, and salt. Mix well and cook for a few minutes until the oil separates from the masala.
- Add the cooked green gram to the pan and mix everything together. Add water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
- Cover the pan and let the curry simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves before serving.
- Serve the flavorful green gram curry with rice, roti (Indian flatbread), or bread.