Friday, November 16, 2012


In the days of our grandmothers and their grandmothers before them, this was the standard 'ulam' (main dish) every Friday. 

Ginisang Munggo or sauteed mung beans is a very popular Filipino dish, a very common way to cook boiled mongo, also known as 'balatong'...

The Roman Catholic church, headed by Spanish friars strictly imposed no meat-eating on Fridays as early as the 15th century, as a form of 'penitensya' (or sacrifice) even outside of the Lenten season. 

The early Filipino people followed the rule and ate mongo beans instead because they knew by cultural knowledge that they replace animal protein.

I grew up following the 'no-meat on Friday tradition' in my grandmother's household. And in the private girls' school where I studied high school, the nuns would not serve meat at the school canteen on Fridays too. Instead they served Ginisang Munggo with fried fish or shrimp.

Mongo Beans originated in India and have been grown since very ancient times. Then they spread to China, Southeast Asia and then eventually to the West. 

Mongo beans was introduced to us Filipinos by the Chinese in the 8th century, cooked both as beans and fresh mongo bean sprouts (called ‘toge’). Mongo beans is very easy, in fact the easiest, beans to digest.  

Mongo beans are in the legume family of plants, excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. They also contain vitamins A, C and E, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium.

According to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines, mongo beans are pacifying to the body and to the mind. Its best known use is the treatment of poisoning of various types including food, drugs, industrial and environmental (pesticides, heavy metal,etc). 

Simply always eat a bowl of Ginisang Munggo served with rice, to counteract any type of poisoning.

Here is my vegetarian version of Ginisang Munggo:

1/4 k mongo beans
2 pcs tokwa or 1/2 block tofu (diced, fried)
2 c ampalaya leaves (bitter melon or bitter gourd leaves)
1/2 c tomatoes
2 Tbsp spring onions or leeks
salt, seasoning

1. Boil mongo until soft and mushy.

2. In a pan, saute spring onions or leeks in oil. Add tomatoes. Cook well. Add boiled mongo, salt and seasoning. Add enough water. Cover and cook.

3. Add ampalaya leaves. Mix well. simmer for a few minutes. Add fried tofu or tokwa. Remove from heat. Serve.
Note: I'm not a garlic or onion user but if you are, you may want to use them for sauteeing.  I use leeks or spring onions instead.

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