Here’s a spicy, Indian style sprouted bean salad which has been my default lunch option for the last few weeks, because it ticks all my ‘great lunch’ boxes. It’s simple to make (once you’ve got the sprouts), ridiculously tasty with the combination of seeds, spices, lemon and chilli, plus it’s got a big tick next to all the major nutrients we need. Alongside it being completely vegan, it really couldn’t be more versatile and all satisfying
Sprouts say one thing to me. Brussels. I’m not talking about the cosmopolitan city, lying a mere 121 minutes away from London St Pancras, rather the bitter green orbs of distaste which I was deigned not to like well before one had ever crossed the threshold of my trap. Society seemed constructed for little children who Don’t Like Sprouts. Perhaps it’s their bitter flavour, or perhaps there’s an entire social precedent where children dislike them, so that parents make more effort to ensure we eat one, which reinforces not liking them, rather than converting us to their pleasures. It seems we’re set on course to dislike sprouts of the ‘du Bruxelles’ variety before we’ve actually tried the things.
Bee Wilson, in her book ‘How We Learn to Eat’ covers a lot of ground on encouraging children to eat vegetables. The irony is that the most effective way is not to encourage them, let alone force them to eat things they dislike. Some of the most aggressively picky eaters, who had restrained their diet to potatoes and bread were transformed into beings that happily chomped on vegetables of all kinds. The big message behind achieving this was to let kids choose and not coerce them in any way. Offer the chance to try small amounts of different things and don’t cause any fuss if they decline.
On the flip side, enforcement of food often resulted in even more entrenched behaviour. So next time it’s Christmas and you’re anticipating your kid pulling a grimace at the prospect of a brussels sprout, don’t even go there. At most, offer them one respectfully, as you would another adult and if they decline, just move on.
New Sprout Order.
A few weeks ago I posted my quick guide on how to sprout mung beans. Sprouts had been on my radar for a long time, I remember seeing the packs appear in supermarkets several years ago and I’ll admit to being naive about what they were. Beansprouts were familiar to me, from my student days making stir-frys. Beansprouts, unbeknown to me are simply sprouted mung beans. You can sprout all sorts of beans and seeds, they they make a fantastic source of protein and carbohydrate, I would highly recommend these as a foundation for any salad you make this summer.
I’ve stayed in a few places in India and eaten lots of bright, fresh, zingy salads, including ones with sprouted beans. I wanted to create a bit of that spicy tang back at home and this recipe was put together from the abundance of spices which now furnish my cupboards. My spice game has levelled up this year, it’s bursting with flavours and mixes that were unknown to me previously, I’ve also started exchanging recipes with the families in the spice shop and the Indian confectioners around the corner which is giving me some great inspiration.
This recipe is a loving combination of all my experiences, when I made it to photograph for the blog, I really felt joy as I gorged on it once the shots were taken, despite eating this same salad last week, I had almost forgotten how enveloping the flavours are, they juggle together and present a salad which tastes bang on the money. Enjoy.
Panch PhoranThis recipe uses Panch Phoran, a Bengali mix of whole seeds from five spices; Cumin, Brown Mustard, Fenugreek, Nigella and Fennel.
A few supermarkets sell it, however, this is the exception, not the rule. If you have a South Asian grocer near you, try there, they will probably stock it at a much lower cost per 100g than a supermarket.
Alternatively, you can make your own, if you have all of the seeds required, simply mix even amounts of them together and you’re done.
Indian Sprouted Bean Salad with Avocado
By Gavin Wren
Uses a small saucepan, knife and chopping board.
1 teaspoon Panch Phoran (see box above)
1.5 tablespoons rapeseed oil
0.25 teaspoon medium chilli powder
0.25 teaspoon chaat masala
Pinch of Asafoetida (hing)
Pinch of black salt
Juice of half a lemon
150g sprouted mung beans – see my ‘how to’ sprout mung beans post.
1 small avocado
1 medium/large tomato
Half a small red onion
Small handful of fresh coriander
Add the oil, chilli powder, masala, hing, salt and lemon juice to the pan and set aside.
Peel and dice the avocado, dice the tomato and finely chop the onion. Mix with the mung beans in bowl, then finely chop the coriander and mix through. Finally, pour the dressing over the top and sit down to eat.