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Kwati, a curried sprouted bean soup

This is a wonderful traditional soup from the Himalayas.  After I started to read about it, I discovered several variation on the net.  The common threads are the use of a variety of beans including some lentils and peas, that they be sprouted before cooking, and that it is a curry.  This recipe is from the Joys of Nepalese Cooking, by Indra Majupuria, a wonderful little treasure I found in a used bookstore.  There it is called “Hot Beverage of Pulses and Beans”, or Kwati, from Nepal.  It is made for a religious festival.  And it is so beautiful to make that it inspired the series of photos below.

If you have a pressure cooker, it works beautifully for this recipe, but it is not required.
Makes 4-6 servings

Take a total of 2 cups of a mix of these whole dried beans, lentils and peas to sprout (about 1/4 C each):

Urad or black mung beans
Green mung beans
Black eyed peas
Fava beans
Adzuki beans
Chickpeas (garbanzos)

2 teaspoons mustard oil
1-2 onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
Ginger, about 1 inch, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Good stock if you have it, water if not, about a quart (chicken stock was very fine)

Ajwain seeds
Ghee or vegetable oil, 1-2 tsp

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Soak the beans, peas and lentils in water for at least 24 hours.  Drain and keep in a warm place for about 24 hours, until they’ve begun to sprout.  Wash again before cooking.

In the pressure cooker it you’re using it, in a stockpot if not, saute the onion in the mustard oil.  When translucent and beginning to turn golden, add the garlic, bay leaves, and fenugreek seeds.  When the onions are golden, add the sprouted beans and saute briefly before adding the spices and stock.  Simmer until the beans are soft (30-45 minutes in a stock pot, 15 minutes under pressure in the pressure cooker.

Fry the ajwain seeds in ghee or oil until they blacken.  Stir into the finished soup and let sit a few minutes to meld the flavors. 

One suggested variation includes chopped spiced meat wrapped in a dough, dropped and cooked in the soup as dumplings.

Note on the beans:

The beans suggesed appear to be commonly available in the Himalaya, but not all are easy to find here in the U.S.  Another version I found suggested an easier mix of kidney beans, black-eyed beans, chickpeas, soy beans, mung beans, green beans, black beans, white beans, and red beans.

Here is the original list from Majupuria’s recipe:
*Masur or lentil (Lens culinaries)--whole, not halved [indian brown lentils with the red interior?]
*Maas or urad (Vigna mango)-- whole, not halved [vinga mungo are black gram or black mung-type beans, “a species which produces small black seeds with a fine taste”]
*Mungi (Vigina radiata/Phaseolus aureus)-- whole, not halved [green mung beans]
*Field pea (Sano Kerao-Pisum arvenese)  small and large varieties [field pea googles up as your basic split pea, unsplit; sano kerao yields nothing; pisum arvense looks like little beige beans, hmm—guessing the basic dried whole green peas are a good start, but the “small and large” varieties remain a puzzle; and why would thse be  listed separately from ‘peas or kerau’ below?]
*Cow pea or bodi (Vigna catjang) [this one is hard to parse out:  black eye peas, or vigna unguiculata is called “bodi” in the caribbean and “catjang” in India per grainslegumes.com, but vigna catjang is a different squarish tan-brown bean; I’m going with the black eyed peas]
*Simi (Solichus labla) white and red varieties [googling suggests possibly mucuna pruriens, a small squarish tropical bean with an oddly prominent eye, which comes in speckled, black, and brown varieties]
*Bakula (broad bean) (Vicia faba) [favas]
*Masyung (Siltung) Phaseolus calcaretus [looks to be adzuki beans, based on the latin, and the others yield nothing on googling]
*Bhatmas (soyabean, Glycine max:  few seeds) [soybeans]
*Peas or kerau (Piscium sativum var arvense) [looks like smooth skinned beige whole dried peas]
*Gram seeds (chana) Siser arietinum, whole, not halved [should be cicer arietinum, your basic chickpea]

And the pictures (whole set on flickr:  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/94/234457418_e389310b31.jpg:

Before sprouting:
Before sprouting

Sprouted, ready to cook:
Sprouted beans up close

The finished soup:
The finished soup

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