March 6, 2009

Kenyan Mung Bean Stew

Known more by its local name, Dengu is a simple meal from Kenya. The star of the dish is the lowly mung bean. Relatively unknown in the States, mung beans are native to India and Pakistan. They are found commonly in Asian and Indian cuisine, and they are highly versatile that can accompany sweet, tangy, or spicy dishes.

How they got to Kenya is anyone's guess, but dengu is a pleasant blending of mung beans and onions and peppers. It is rather thick and barely passes as a "stew". You can find dried mung beans in Asian markets, health food stores, and in some well-stocked groceries. You want the green mung beans, which are shelled; the whole yellow mung beans take much longer to cook.

Kenyan Mung Bean Stew


1¼ c dried mung beans, soaked overnight

1 bay leaf

2 T olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red onion, chopped

2 T ketchup

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 green chili, seeded and finely chopped

1¼ c water


1. If you are cooking the beans in a pressure cooker, there is no need to soak them. Rinse them well, cover them with water, throw in the bay leaf, and lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure and maintain high pressure for 15 - 18 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. If you are not using a pressure cooker, put the beans and bay leaf in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until the beans are very soft, about an hour.

3. Drain off any extra water. Using a fork or potato masher, mash most of the beans.

4. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes. Squirt in the ketchup and cook another minute, constantly stirring.

5. Now add the mashed mung beans and chopped peppers. Pour in the water, stir it all up well, and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Serve hot.


  1. Can't wait to make the Mung Bean Stew. The picture shows carrots. Is that a substitute for the red peppers. Have you made it both ways?

  2. Sorry, my camera is not so great. Those are red bell peppers and not carrots. Although, after thinking about it, I think carrots would be pretty good in this dish!