home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Vigna radiata (Mung bean, Green gram, Golden gram, Chop suey bean, Chickasaw pea)

[= Phaseolus aureus]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Fabales > Family: Fabaceae > Subfamily: Papilionoideae > Genus: Vigna

Vigna radiata (mung beans) Vigna radiata (mung beans)

Mung beans. [photos H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Mung beans originate from India and India remains a leading producer of this legume. Most mung beans are olive green in colour but they can also be yellow, brown, or mottled black. They are an excellent source of folic acid and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and thiamin. Mung beans are an important food in rural areas of southern Africa, where the dry bean seeds are used or the beans themselves are eaten as a vegetable.


  • Most commonly grown as bean sprouts, which are eaten raw. They are often added to salads or to a stir-fry.
  • Whole beans can be eaten after about an hour of cooking. They don't need to be soaked beforehand.
  • Beans are ground into flour and this is used to make noodles, which are termed 'bean threads' or 'cellophane noodles'
  • Breads and pastries can be filled with puréed mung beans.
  • In India, they make a spread called 'moog dal', which is eaten with rice or bread.
  • Young, whole beans are eaten as a vegetable.
How to make bean sprouts
  1. Buy a bag of mung bean seeds from the supermarket of health shop.
  2. Put about two tablespoons of bean seeds into a glass jar.
  3. Add lots of lukewarm water to the jar, cover it with a porous cover such as gauze or muslin and let the seeds soak overnight. This process helps them to germinate more quickly.
  4. The next day, drain off the water with the help of the porous cover. Put the jar in a warm place with good ventilation, out of direct sunlight. A temperature of 13-21°C is ideal.
  5. Over a period of 5-7 days, every night and morning pour warm water over the seeds and then turn the jar over and drain the water away using the porous cover as a sieve. If they are not drained properly, fungus can develop. However, if you are too vigorous in draining the water, you can damage the sprouts and stop them growing.
  6. At the termination of this growing period, give the sprouts a final rinse. If not eaten immediately, they can be stored in the fridge for about four days. When storing them in the fridge, place them on an absorbant surface such as a layer of roller towel (to absorb excess moisture), in an airtight container.

information from Brown (1991)


  • Anon. 2002. Encyclopedia of Foods. A Guide to Healthy Nutrition. Academic Press, San Diego, California. 

  • Brown, S. 1991. Vegetarian Cookery (Pocket Encyclopedia). Dorling Kindersley, London.

  • van Wyk, B.-E. & Gericke, N. 2000. People's Plants. A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.