Low carb diets have been popular for a while now. Ranging from the controversial Atkins to the still in vogue South Beach Diet, they promote rapid weight loss. There are several other factions who also promote whole grains, and 'whole grains' have become such a buzz word that even a box full of chocos or other colorful cereal says it contains 'whole grains' in the box. It is hard to follow any plan that restricts food groups, be it certain fruits, or vegetables or staples like pasta or rice. However, I have found that low carb diets do show you results in the initial week or so. Its the sustained low carb journey where I have failed so far. In their defense, its only the first one or two weeks where these diets are very restrictive. You are allowed to gradually add the carbs or grains back in very limited quantities, and these may vary from person to person. As some saint has said, total abstinence is much easier than controlled moderation. I have seen that I do quite well, though I struggle, in the first 8-10 days, but re-introducing limited quantities of carbs is where I have always gone downhill.
The low carb diet is extremely easy to follow if you are a meat eater and like meat. The word 'meat' here includes any kind like poultry, fish etc. What could be easier than just grilling a few marinated chicken breasts and freezing them to eat with steamed veggies at will? Or just popping a salmon steak sprinkled with lemon juice, olive oil and some Mrs. Dash under the broiler for 10 minutes or just scrambling some eggs? Although I certainly do not miss eating all that stuff, I do sometimes miss the ease with which meals could be put together, or procured and also the high protein content they provided. What they also provided along with the protein is another story :). Another possible drawback of not eating bread or pasta or rotis etc. is that you miss the chewy texture or the feeling of actually sinking your teeth into something. I like my tofu and TVP and soy products as much as the other person, but it sometimes gets tiring eating just that for every meal. Boca and Morningstar are not prolific in the city of Pune. The vegetarian person is then left with lentils and pulses and beans that although highly nutritious in every way, also pack equivalent amount of carbs. Summer is not a season when you can merrily slurp dal or lentil based soups all the time, and something different seemed the need of the hour.
The Mung bean is my chosen one out of all the different dals in my pantry. The Mung bean is relatively less unknown in the western world compared to other indian dals courtesy the 'bean sprouts' found in most grocery stores. The Mung bean is easily available in different forms - the yellow mung dal, the whole green mung beans and the green split mung dal or chilka dal. Ayurveda has also put the mung bean on a pedestal. Mung beans 'light the intestinal fire' and give a boost to your metabolism. They are also easy on digestion and hence the mung khichadi or mung water/soup is mostly given to convalescents for its recuperative powers. The mung bean, in fact, seemed the answer to my prayers, offering me all this goodness and so I came up with this recipe while looking for something different that also fulfilled all my criteria regarding nutrition, taste, texture etc.etc.
This recipe uses sprouted beans (not the white sprouts you get in the store), fresh beetroot and tons of fresh mint. The beetroot, although sweet and sugary is loaded with folates, manganese, potassium, fiber, vitamin c etc. and is a powerhouse of nutrients. I recommend only fresh grated beets for this recipe. You can use boiled whole green mung beans too instead of sprouted beans. The mint and beetroot form a very pleasing color of fuschia and green. The mint lends a freshness to the recipe and gives out a minty aroma as the cutlets cook. The ingredients and method are as follows:
2 cups boiled sprouted mung beans
1 cup grated fresh beetroot
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2-3 cloves garlic fresh grated
1-2 Tbsp besan or chickpea flour
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chat masala
dash of hot sauce
salt to taste
oil or non-stick spray as needed
1) Drain and mash the boiled mung beans. Add all ingredients such as the beetroot, mint leaves and all spices.
2) Lightly brown the onion in a pan using cooking spray just enough to extract all the moistness from the onion
3) Add the onion to the mixture. Mash and mix everything together with a spoon.
4) Add enough besan/flour a little at a time until the mixture looks like soft dough and small patties etc. can be formed.
5) Form small flat patties or form a ball in your palm and roll it sideways to form oblong sausage like links. You can also use some small moulds you may have to form fancy shapes like heart shaped etc.
6) Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree F oven until evenly browned - turn once or twice as needed. You can also grill them in a non stick pan using minimum oil or spray.
7) Serve hot with tomato ketchup.