Iraqi Mung Bean Rice

Meet the southern Iraqi’s famous Timman Mash, Mung bean rice. Simple, nourishing and soul comforting food.

Each version listed below, and photographed above, is delicious in different ways.
I grew up eating it with:
Stewed turmeric and dried lime chicken and broth, creamy yoghurt and a simple salad.

The new me (reducing meat consumption) eats it with:
Seasonal stir-fry topped with either sesame or sprouts, lots of fresh herbs, a few walnuts and a drizzle of date syrup

The locals eat it with:
– Gheee (clarified butter)
– Some like it sweet with date syrup
– Creamy yoghurt

The Recipes: (Quantities can be halved)

Tmman Mash, Mung Bean Rice – Serves 6

  • 1 cup whole mung beans soaked overnight
  • 1 and 1/2 cups rice (basmati is best) soaked for half an hour
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 25g butter, cut into small cubes (can use vegan variety

Place the soaked mung beans in a pan, cover with water, just over 5 cm. Bring to a boil, removing any excess foam that rises on the surface. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. The beans are done once they are tender and a few are ever so slightly mushy. Leave aside.  (Note if you forget to soak the beans simply cover with more water and simmer for longer until tender.) 

Meanwhile, add plenty of water into a large pan, add 2-3 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and carefully add to the boiling water. Boil for about 5 to 10 minutes until rice grain is half cooked and still has a bit of a crunch. The timing depends on the type of rice and how long it’s been soaked. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside. 

Heat the oil in the same large pan which you drained the rice from, add onions and fry gently for a good 10 to 15 minutes until they start to caramelise. Add rice, mung beans, spices, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and using the handle of the spoon, make a few wholes in the rice mixture and add a cube of butter in each. Cover and gently heat over a heat diffuser (if you have one) for about 15 minutes, turning once in between. 

Stir-fry – The vegetables I had – Serves 2

  • Oil of your choice
  • 1/4 cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot cut into thin matchsticks pieces
  • 1 red and green pepper cut into matchsticks
  • 2 green onions or plenty of chives finely diced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • pinch of nigella seeds or toasted sesame seeds 

Heat about one tablespoon of oil until almost smoking hot. Add the vegetables, apart from the spring onions and cook for a good 5 to 7 minutes, stirring continuously. Add spring onions and fry for another 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar and chilli. Serve topped with nigella or sesame seeds. A drizzle of date syrup with a few walnuts for extra crunch goes nicely with the rice!

Turmeric and Dried Lime Iraqi Chicken Stew – Serves 6

  • A whole chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cardamom powder
  • 3 dried limes (noomi Basra), pierced
  • Salt to taste

Place chicken pieces, onion, turmeric, curry powder, cardamom, salt and dried limes in a large pot, cover and ‘sweat’ until the chicken changes colour and the natural juices released from the chicken have evaporated. Add boiling water to cover everything, and simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes to one hour depending not the type of chicken. That’s it! It’s one of the easiest stews to make. 

Note: if you can’t find dried limes, adding the juice of half a lemon should be ok. 

Additional accompaniments as side to the rice:

  • A classic leafy salad with tomatoes and cucumber and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing
  • A small handful and walnuts and dates or date syrup (as mentioned above)
  • Creamy yoghurt
  • Ghee or extra cubes of butter to melt over the rice

Enjoy. Bon Appetite!


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