First of all, dried beans are a wonderful and economical source of protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, potassium and magnesium. When we cook them from scratch they maintain their prana (life force energy) as opposed to consuming canned beans which become tamasic (stagnant or dull energy). In addition to softening beans in preparation for cooking and shortening their cooking time, soaking beans may makes them easier to digest and can even enhance their nutritional benefits.
From the Ayurvedic perspective it is very important to soak your beans before you cook them. That said, all beans and legumes have different qualities and some need more time to soak than others. For example, peas and red lentils only need to soak for about 20 minutes before you cook them. Black beans and garbanzo beans need at least 8 hours to soak.
In addition to soaking, cooking your beans with ghee (clarified butter) and cumin seeds can help to reduce the gas as well! Try the recipe below to experience it for yourself!
Here's the Science!
"The outer coatings of many varieties of beans have sugars called oligosaccharides. When beans aren’t soaked, these sugars can bypass your stomach and small intestine without being fully digested. When these sugars enter your large intestine, bacteria break them down, producing intestinal gas in the process. Soaking dried legumes dissolves the membranes that cover beans and releases their oligosaccharides. After soaking, discard water and rinse beans to remove sugars." - www.livestrong.com
-Recipe For Traditional Ayurvedic Green Mung Soup-
Green mung bean soup has been used for thousands of years in Grandmothers kitchens all across the Asian continent as a healing medicine. Well renowned for its nourishing and detoxifying effects, Green Mung soup helps to balance all 3 doshas. It helps clear away Aam (toxicity) that gets lodged in the body over time due to poor diet, lack of exercise and living a sedentary lifestyle. This soup is ideal for anyone trying to shed a few pounds or wanting to do a gentle cleanse.
1 cup whole green mung beans (must soak at least 5 hours)
3 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp Ghee
1 1/2 tsp ginger - chopped
1/2 tsp garlic - chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 small pinch of hing (asafoetida- available for purchase at the Indian store- not necessary... you can still make it without the hing)
1 tsp Himalayan Pink Rock Salt or to taste (available at Trader Joes or Whole Foods)
1. Soak the mung beans overnight in water.
2. Finely chop ginger and garlic.
3. Drain the mung beans, rinse them and put them in pot with 3 1/2 cups of water.
4. Add salt and turmeric and bring to a boil.
5. Cook Mung beans fully stirring occasionally. (they are not fully cooked until they are breaking apart. Will take approx. 45 min unless you use a pressure cooker in which case it will only take about 20 minutes)
6. Heat ghee in a separate pan. Add hing, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Wait until you hear the cumin seeds pop. Then add garlic and ginger and let simmer for a few minutes until garlic becomes golden brown.
7. Add ghee mixture to cooked mung beans and stir.
8. You can add greens like kale or spinach to this for some added texture.