Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kwaanti - क्वाँटी - Sprouted Bean Soup

Kwaanti or Biraulaa ko Ras -  Sprouted Bean Soup

Colorful array of homemade sprouted beans
A taste of tradition - celebrate the festival of Janai Purnima (August 21, 2013) by preparing the much loved kwaanti - sprouted bean soup.
Mixed sprouted beans are known as kwaanti, quaanti (क्वाँटी), or biraula (बिरौला) in Nepal and are cooked a number of ways: in soups, in vegetable stir-fries, in salads, or in combination with meats.  During the Nepali festival of Janai Purnima or Kwanti Purnima, a delicious stew-like soup is prepared from a colorful array of mixed sprouted beans.  Traditionally, the sprouts are prepared from a combination of nine different types of colorful beans.  This wholesome soup is highly nutritious and usually eaten with steamed rice.  Today, kwaanti soup is cooked regularly in many Nepali households, and one does not have to wait for festival time to enjoy it.  Although this dish can be prepared quickly in a pressure cooker, some cooks believe that the sprouts do not absorb the seasoning during the shorter cooking time.  While cooking kwaanti, there is no need to mash the beans to thicken the soup.  Some sprouts, like mung beans, cook faster than others and by the time the whole dish is cooked, they will become mushy, making the dish just the right texture.

Here is my step-by-step guide to making sprouts and kwaanti soup.  I have provided the full recipe at the end of this post.

Listed below are the traditional Nepali whole bean combinations used to make kwaanti, but other combinations also may be substituted.
1/2 cup whole green mung beans, with skins (singo moong ko daal - सिंगो मूंग को दाल )
1/2 cup whole black urad beans, with skins (singo maas ko daal - सिंगो मास को दाल )
1/4 cup dried black-eyed peas (bodi - बोडी)
1/4 cup dried whole green or yellow peas (thulo kerau - hariyo-pahelo - ठुलो केराउ  हरियो पहेंलो)
1/4 cup dried soybeans, brown or white (bhatmaas - भटमास)
1/4 cup dried whole brown chickpeas (kaalo chanaa - कालो चना)
2 tablespoons dried whole yellow chickpeas (thulo chanaa - ठुलो चना)
2 tablespoons dried kidney beans (raato bodi - रातो बोडी)
2 tablespoons dried fava beans (bakullaa - बकुल्ला)
2 tablespoons dried small field peas (saano kerau - सानो केराउ)
makes about 6 to 7 cups
Cleaning the beans: Inspect the beans carefully before soaking and remove any foreign materials such as small stones, weeds, seeds, dried soils, or leaves.  Once sprouted, it is very difficult to pick out and remove these foreign materials.  Certain beans, such whole black urad beans, or Nepali field peas need to be cleaned particularly, as they often contain tiny black stones.
Soaking: Wash, rinse, and drain the bean mixture several times until the water is clear.  Discard anything that floats while washing.  Water is the key ingredient in sprouts and the soaking process is called re-hydration.  The dried beans are soaked in water to bring back their moisture.  As a rule, for each cup of beans, use 4 cups of room temperature water.  I do not recommend hot water for soaking, because it may cause the beans to sour or the outer skins to break.  Very cold water will slow the re-hydration process.  In a large bowl, mix all beans together, add enough room temperature water to cover, and leave them to soak for 10-12 hours at room temperature.  Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly.
Once the beans are soaked, they will swell and double in size.  Discard the soaking water.
Wrap the drained beans in a cheesecloth or muslin cloth and secure it.  Place the bean mixture in a colander or any porous container, as the growing sprouts need ventilation.  Place the colander in a cupboard, pantry, or any dark, warm, humid place, to encourage sprouting.
Check occasionally, and sprinkle with a few drops of water, if needed, to keep the beans moist but not very wet.  By the second day, the beans will start to sprout, given proper moisture.  Remove the beans from the cloth and rinse under running water.  Drain the beans, tie them back in the cheese cloth, and return to the warm place.  Repeat the process twice a day (morning, evening) until they begin to sprout, which may take 2 to 3 days.
The size of the sprouts will vary depending on the combination of beans.  They are ready when the sprouts are about 1/3-inch long.  Do not allow the sprouts to grow too long, as they will become tasteless.  To stop further sprouting, drain completely and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
When preparing the sprouts for cooking, it is not necessary to remove the outer covering of the beans or pluck off the sprouts.  Some sprouted beans cook faster than other beans (mung beans cook faster than other large legumes, for instance).  When you are cooking the mixed beans, the soft texture beans may become mushy by the time the cooking process is finished, which is normal.
Kwaanti soup (see recipe below) is easy to put together.  You do not need to spend hours in the kitchen.  All you need to do is simmer slowly until tender.
Close-up view of slow simmering.  For variation, you may add ground meat or momo dumplings in the soup.
. . . Now the soup has become stew-like, and is ready to be served!
Here is the delicious, healthful, and comforting mixed sprouted bean soup (kwaanti).  Pour over a bowl of freshly steamed rice and enjoy.  A must try!
Here is a close-up picture of a protein-rich vegetarian kwaanti soup.  This is such a great combination of flavors and textures!
Enjoy the delicious kwaanti ko ras of Nepal from my kitchen.
From Jyoti's kitchen - serving kwaanti soup and celebrating Janai Purnima festival.
 Read more about the benefits of sprouted beans from the Kathmandu Post (here).  
"Most festivals in Nepal are associated with great feasts, and these feasts include quite a few dishes that are healthy as well as being delicious turns of local cuisine. Such is the case with food prepared on the recently-passed Janai Purnima, also called ‘Kwanti Purnima’ by the Newar community.
Kwanti is a Newari word that translates directly to ‘hot soup’, consumed in large amounts during Janai Purnima. It is essentially a sprout soup, comprising of nine varieties of beans—black-eyed peas, kidney beans, black gram, chickpeas, azuki, soybeans, mung, peas and favas—although people tend to add other kinds as well. The beans are washed, mixed and soaked overnight, and then allowed to sprout by covering, once they are drained, and storing them in a warm area for two to four days. The sprouted beans are then cooked into a thick soup with different spices.
Grain legume seeds are an important source of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals for human and animal consumption. The proteins in these legumes are relatively low in sulphur-containing amino acids, but are richer in other essential amino acids compared to cereal grains. It is therefore advisable to consume these legumes with cereals—say rice or chiura—for the best, most balanced results......." To read the complete article on the "Call of kwanti," please click here.

 The Taste of Nepal Cookbook Kwaanti Ko Ras recipe follows:
2 cups mixed sprouted Beans
2 tablespoons clarified butter (gheu)
4 to 6 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 fresh mild green chilies, split lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
A generous pinch of ground asafetida
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons ajowan seeds
Salt to taste
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoons mustard oil
2 dried red chilies, halved and seeded
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan herb (jimbu)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)

Rinse the sprouts in several changes of running water.  Discard any seed coatings that come loose and float to the top of the water.  drain the sprouts and set aside.

Heat the clarified butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, green chilies, turmeric, and asafetida and fry for 10 seconds.  Add the onion and cook stirring constantly, until lightly browned about 7 minutes.  Mix in the sprouted beans, 1 tablespoon of the ajowan, and the salt and cook, stirring from time to time, until lightly fried and the moisture from the sprouts have evaporated.  Add tomatoes, giger, coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and cook until the tomatoes have softened.  Stir in 4 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer.  Check occasionally to see if the water has evaporated or the beans are soft.  If not, add more water and continue cooking, covered.  The beans are ready when they are soft when pressed between your fingers.  It may take 45 minutes to one hour.  Remove the beans from the heat and keep covered.

In a small skillet, heat the mustard oil over medium-high heat until it faintly smokes.  Add the dried chilies, jimbu, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of ajowan and fry until dark brown and highly fragrant, about 5 seconds.  Remove the skillet from the heat, immediately pour the entire mixture onto the cooked bean dish, and stir well.  Cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Transfer the beans to a serving dish, sprinkle with cilantro on top, and serve - Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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