Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek)
Family: Papilionaceae (Fabaceae, Leguminosae)
Synonym: Phaseolus radiata L.,
Common Names: Mung Bean, Moong Bean, Green Gram, Golden Gram, Haricot mungo, Mungo, haricot doré
It’s closely related to Adzuki bean (Vigna angularis), and Black Gram or Urad Dal (Vigna mungo).
Green gram, originated in India where it has been cultivated for millennia. It spread, in early times, to other Asian countries and later to Africa, Australia, the Americas, and West Indies. India is the largest producer, followed by China. It’s also grown in many tropical African countries.
Mature whole or split seeds, immature pods and young leaves. The split seeds have their green testa removed, are pale yellow in colour and can be toasted and ground into flour, called the gram flour (please do not confuse this with chickpea flour which is called Besan). Starch can also be extracted from the seeds.
Annual herb up to 1.3m tall. Leaves alternate and 3 (-5)-foliate, dark green in colour. Seeds 2.5-4mm x 2.5-3mm, commonly green in colour but sometimes yellow, olive, brown, purplish or black depending on the type.
Two main cultivars are usually distinguished based on seed colour.
- Green gram: has green seeds and is the most widely cultivated and used.
- Golden gram: has yellow seeds but the yields are low so it’s often grown for forage or green manure.
- There are also other types with black or brown seeds but these are not as common.
Green gram seeds are highly digestible and cause less flatulence than seeds or most pulses. They also have a low glycemic index (GI).
Use of Green Grams
Green grams can be used used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Whole seeds: in Africa, whole seeds are boiled with cereals such as maize (corn) or sorghum and eaten as a nutritive meal.
Whole seeds can also be cooked with meat, prawns, fish or vegetables, in sauces, and served with chapatti or rice or seasoned with spices and freshly grated coconut.
Split seeds: the dried split seeds are pale yellow in colour and are called, dal or dhal. In India and Pakistan the split seeds are cooked as dal (green gram soup or sauce).
Split seeds can also be fried and salted and eaten as a snack. Cooked split seeds can also blended with liquid, sweetened and served as a beverage.
Mung Bean Starch: extracted from ground mung beans and used to make transparent cellophane noodles also called bean thread noodles, bean threads, or glass noodles.
Immature pods and young leaves are eaten as a vegetable.
Sprouted Mung Seeds: eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. The French erroneously call the sprouts “germes de soja.”
A summary of the edible Vigna species
- Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek. also known as Mung Bean, Moong Bean, Green Gram, Golden Gram, Haricot mungo, Mungo, haricot doré
- Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper also known as black gram, urad bean, minapa pappu, mungo bean or black matpe bean. V.mungo and V. radiata are very closely related.
- Vigna umbellata (Thunb.) Ohwi & H.Ohashi also known as rice bean.
- Vigna aconitifolia (Jacq.) Maréchal. It is commonly called mat bean, moth bean, matki, Turkish gram or dew bean.
- Vigna angularis (Willd.) Ohwi & H. Ohashi : Adzuki bean, Aduki Bean or Azuki Bean
- Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. Also known as: Black Eyed Pea, Cowpea, Pea Bean, Black Eyed-Bean, China Pea, Bombay Cowpea. Southern Peas, Black eye Peas, Crowder Peas, California blackeyed pea. Also includes the yardlong beans.
Last Updated: March 13, 2018