This India-meets-Israel dish—stewed mung beans with tahini, onions, spinach, and tomatoes—was shared with me by Ran Nussbacher, owner of DC’s Shouk restaurants, whose mother gave it to him. She lives in Tel Aviv and was inspired to recreate the dish after loving it at the popular Café Puaa. “Mung bean is certainly more Indian than it is Middle Eastern, so I think this is a fusion story, as India is a prime destination for Israeli travelers,” Nussbacher says. I love Indian spices and their use in dal, but this is proof that mung beans can indeed speak more than one language. The original recipe called for the onions to be briefly cooked, but I like to add even more depth and sweetness by spending the time to caramelize them first.
- Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onions. Sauté, using tongs to toss frequently, until they wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, sweet, and lightly browned, 60 to 75 minutes.
- While the onions are cooking, transfer the beans to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans sit until the onions are ready.
- When the onions are ready, drain the beans, reserving the cooking water, and return them to the pot. Transfer the onions to the pot, along with the tomatoes and garlic. Add just enough of the cooking liquid to barely reach the top of the mixture. (You want the final dish to be moist but not soupy.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft enough to mash with the back of a wooden spoon, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook just until it wilts, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- To serve, divide among serving bowls and drizzle with the tahini. Serve with rustic bread.
Reprinted with permission from Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World's Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes by Joe Yonan, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit: Aubrie Pick © 2020