Tuesday 26 March 2024

Recipe Tuesday - Mung Bean Curry

Tonight, I cooked something that I haven’t cooked since October:  Mung Bean Curry.  It used to be such a regular in my repertoire that for years I never had to check the recipe before I cooked.  In fact, I’m surprised that I’d never shared it on the blog.  

This is one of those recipes that came off the back of the packet.  I’ve been cooking it for 30+ years.  I don’t remember why we had a packet of mung beans in the cupboard - Dumbo, the long-ago ex, bought them and made something unmemorable with about half the packet -  but, I do remember noticing this recipe on the back and deciding to give it a go.  I saved that plastic packet for years and referred to it regularly.  Sadly, it disappeared after we packed up the kitchen for building works back in 2012.  This is from memory.

Mung Bean Curry (serves 4)


175g/6oz dried mung beans - not split mung dhal, but the whole bean
1L approximately of boiling water
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, garlic
100-150g mushrooms, sliced
2 peppers/capsicums, sliced
1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup plain yoghurt


1 teaspoon ground chilli (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric 
1 teaspoon corn flour
Pinch of salt

Bulgar Wheat (see notes below)
1 cup bulgar wheat
2 cups boiling water
Pinch of salt

  1. Start by cooking your mung beans:  pour them into a sieve and rinse off any dust with cold, running water.  Then place in a saucepan, cover with sufficient boiling water to ensure that there’s 2.5cm/1inch of water to cover the beans, bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until soft.  Once cooked, drain the beans.  While the beans are cooking, get on with preparing the rest of the dish.
  2. In a small ramekin, assemble the spices.  Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and mix to a paste.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan.  Gently fry the onion until it is soft and glassy.
  4. Add the mushrooms, peppers and garlic.  Fry until soft.
  5. Stir in your spice paste.  Fry until the aroma rises and then fold in the yoghurt.  Add the carrot and keep stirring, until heated through.  Switch off until the mung beans are cooked.
  6. When the mung beans are cooked and drained, stir them into the curry mixture.  Bring back to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, rinse out the saucepan used for the mung beans in hot water.  In it, combine 1 cup of bulgar wheat, with 2 cups of boiling water and a pinch of salt.  Bring back to the boil.  Cover and switch off.  Leave undisturbed for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed..
  8. Serve.
  • My favourite “filler” these days is bulgar wheat, instead of rice.  Yes, it’s more expensive BUT it has 3 advantages:  1) it is even easier to cook (see point 7 above); 2) it bulks out to a larger volume than rice, so I only need to use 1 cup instead of 1.5 for 4 portions; 3) it has 8 times the fibre and 4 times the protein of brown rice!
  • If you want to serve this curry with rice:  use 1.5 cups of white/basmati rice together with 3 cups of boiling water, cover, boil for 2 minutes, switch off and leave for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.


- Pam

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Update on me

I have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

It started with a bleeding stomach ulcer, in May. I had a gastroscopy at the end of June and a CT Scan in August, which were followed up with a second gastroscopy, an MRI and another CT Scan in December.  The ulcer was situated on a small lump in my stomach.  Until the start of November, I felt well and healthy; after that I started getting sicker and sicker. I was diagnosed at the end of December, based on biopsy results from the second gastroscopy.  On 17th January, I was so ill that I was admitted to hospital for almost 3 weeks.  Poor DH was by my side for the whole thing.  He was worried sick and only left my hospital room to go home to sleep.  (After I was discharged on 5th February, he was so knackered that he slept for about 20 hours.)

I’m still shocked at how sick I was.  I realise now that I was close to death.

As well as being a lump in my stomach, the lymphoma was in my liver, kidneys, right shoulder, chest and pancreas. I had no energy, no muscle tone (I’d struggled to climb the stairs at home), no concentration, and was swollen with fluid in my legs, abdomen and lungs.  At one point in the hospital, I was carrying 20kg (44lb!) of excess water.  The hospital even put me on oxygen. I wasn’t hungry and struggled to eat.  Over 3 months, I lost over a stone and a half in weight. (That’s 21lb or  9.5kg.)

I had my first round of chemo in the hospital and immediately started feeling better.  The miracle happened two weekends later, when I woke up on the Saturday and suddenly felt “normal”.  I had energy and an appetite, and could knit and read, neither of which I’d been able to do for weeks.  Ironically, the night before, I’d been so deeply asleep that the nurse struggled to wake me for my obs and nearly called a code. (I was dreaming and he’d been incorporated into my dream.  It was only when DH’s voice cut through the dream that I woke up.)  I was discharged the following Monday.

My treatment is 6 rounds of chemotherapy, consisting of 4 separate drugs, on a 3 week cycle.  I had my third round last week and, beyond chemo screwing up my tastebuds - again - I’m feeling good.  Seriously, my biggest frustration is that I can’t taste coffee.  My taste for it does come back towards the end of week 3 in the chemo cycle, so it’s not permanent but meanwhile I have to drink tea.

Of course, it’s not just coffee that I can’t taste at this point.  The lack of taste applies to most proteins, making meals tasteless or just taste of one ingredient, e.g. vinegar in Hot & Sour Soup (which should taste of chicken and didn’t).  It’s totally off-putting.  I can, however, taste Vegemite.  Yesterday’s snack:

Other side effects that I’ve experienced are peeling skin and, of course, beyond a few determined strands, I have lost most of my hair.

Still have my eyebrows and eyelashes though. (NB:  I had the length cut off, a few days after my diagnosis, and donated it to the Little Princess Trust, who make wigs for little girls undergoing chemo.  Might as well make something good from my situation.)

I’ve been home for 5 weeks now and spend my days watching television, knitting, listening to podcasts and reading. We go for a walk every afternoon and I cook dinner most days.  I go to the hospital every Monday, either for blood tests and a dressing change to my PICC line or those plus chemotherapy.  A chemo day is at least 5 hours long, so I have to make sure I have enough to read.  I’m working my way through Dorothy L Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey novels in publication order - although initially I reread Gaudy Night - and am currently on book 6, Five Red Herrings.  

Work-wise, I’ve been signed off sick for 6 months by the hospital, so will return to work at the end of July.  I’m still burning up my sick leave at the moment and won’t be on Statutory Sick Pay until April.  It’s £116.25 per week, which isn’t much - less than the UK half minimum wage.  Fortunately, we have plenty of savings so can easily cover my share of the bills.

- Pam

2023 American Road-trip - Stop 2, Savannah

After last weekend’s NASA trip and witnessing a rocket launch, on the Sunday we headed for Savannah.  As the only driver, the Lost American is a complete hero, because the drive to Savannah was terrible; three thunder storms accompanied by torrential rain.  Several times, the traffic ground to a halt when you could barely see the vehicle in front of you.  

In Savannah, we stayed in the old part of town, on East Bay Street, a short walk downhill to the restaurants and bars along the river.  How do I describe Savannah?  It’s a cross between Kensington and New Orleans, built on a river bank with a major port upstream from the city centre.  

Yes, you can enjoy your pre-dinner drinks on River Street, while watching container ships traverse the river under their own steam.

For dinner, we went to the Fiddlers Bar and Grill, where I had oysters, mussels and the first flounder I’ve encountered outside Australia.  Yum!

After dinner, we wandered a bit through the old town, before heading back to our hotel.  There were trees dripping with moss, gaslights, and even a bar with a cricket picture on the wall:

My first gas lamp:

Next morning, we did a trolley bus tour, which combined history with tourist stops, including a stop outside the only remaining house in Savannah to have intact slave quarters (now a museum). 

 On other stops, there was an actor who addressed us in creole before explaining its origins, and a 17th century gentleman who explained how Georgia gained its colonial charter (the original inspiration for the colony was to rescue impecunious gentlemen from debtors’ prison). The tour was the only time slavery was mentioned to us while we were in Savannah.

This building is the courthouse, which is under reconstruction after the roof collapsed, bringing down two floors with it.