Black gram or vigna mungo beans are small, black, dry beans featuring prominently in the Asian cuisine. Botanically, these tiny legumes belong to the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family in the genus: Vigna.
Scientific name: Vigna mungo L.
|Black gram (urad) beeans, whole and hulled.|
The beans, popularly known as urad, are the fruit pods of a plant originally from India. It is an annual, drought tolerant, dicotyledonous legume. It grows well in sandy, loam soil. Small, 4-7 cm long, hairy, cylindrical pods establish after 60-70 days of seedling. Each pod encloses 6-10 seeds that are black, grayish, brown or dark green. Inside they are a white creamy color.
Vigna mungo is divided in to two sub species.
V. mungo var. niger: It includes varieties having early maturity and bears dark, black seeds.
V. mungo var. viridis: It includes varieties which mature lately. Seeds are small and green.
Black gram beans hold 341 calories and provide 25.21 g or 45% of recommended daily values of protein. Though their calorie value is comparatively lesser, the beans carry relatively high protein composition than chickpeas.
Black gram beans are unique among the legumes in having soluble mucilaginous polysaccharides. They compose excellent levels of dietary fiber which works as a bulk laxative that helps to protect the colon mucosa by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Dietary fiber has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing reabsorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
Urad beans contain small fractions of isoflavones in them are glycitein, genistein, daidzein and formononetin. Isoflavones have been found to reduce post-menopausal cancers and osteoporosis.
They are excellent sources of B-complex vitamins. At 216 μg or 54% of daily values per 100 g, folates are plentiful in them Folate, along with vitamin B-12, is one of the essential co-factor for DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate in the diet around conception and during pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn baby.
Additionally, they compose very good levels of many B-complex vitamins such as vitamin-B6-22%, thiamin-23%, pantothenic acid-18%, riboflavin-20%, and niacin-9% of daily recommended values. Most of these vitamins works as co-factors for the enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
Urad beans also incredible sources of minerals. The beans are rich in iron at 7.57 mg or 95% of RDI. Iron improves memory power, cognition and help prevent anemia. Other minerals in ample quantities in these beans are calcium-14%, copper-109%, magnesium-67%, zinc-30%, and phosphorus-54% of DV (daily values)
They also rich in potassium, 983 mg (21%) per 100 g, nearly 1.5 times more than in chickpeas. Potassium electrolyte is present in cell and body fluids. It helps counter pressing effects of sodium on heart and blood pressure.
Harvesting done once the whole plant and seed pods turn yellow. Stacks dried under the sun. Threshing and winnowing methods employed for seed separation.
The black gram beans can be readily available in the stores all year round. Buy well formed bold-black dry seeds in bins, and packets. Ready-to-use, split, hulled and cleaned beans are also sold in the shops.
At home, store dry beans in air-sealed plastic/metallic bin and keep in a cool, dry place away from high temperatures and humidity.
Urad beans soaked for 6-10 hours before cooking. Soaking and pressure cooking consumes less time.
Immature urad pods are often used as vegetables. With a soft textured and strong taste, dried, mature urad seeds are prepared in the same way as other legumes.
Here are some serving tips:
|South-Indian style-Dosa sambar.|
In India, they are hulled, split, and used with rice to make a sort of crepe (dosa), or the spiced lentil puree (dal makhani).
In South India, a mixed batter of rice and urad used in the preparation of idli and urad vada (medu vada), served with coconut chutney and samar (vegetable stew).
Ground into flour, urad is used to make confectionery, flatbreads, or bread.
In Sri Lanka and Kerala, a similar kind of batter used in Uttappam, served with vegetable, fish or chicken curry.
Hulled urand split lentils used to prepare papadum in many Indian provinces.
Whole beans can be sprouted, and used in salads.
In small quantities black mungo are well-tolerated without much flatulence problems unlike chickpea. Excessive consumption often causes gastritis and pain in the stomach. Allergy to these beans is a rare condition. (Medical disclaimer)
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