Anita is a successful businesswoman who owns ten branches of a very popular store named Good Earth. It specializes in hand-crafted goods. On the day we met, she, with her daughter Simran and her grandson, were entertaining on the landscaped terrace of their stylish Bombay flat. They are from the Punjab, but their food has taken on a few hints of Bombay as well. Nothing is too hot, too spicy, or too oily, which is typical of North Indian home cooking.

    The menu for lunch consisted of this bean sprout dish, which is eaten all over India, some fried fish, toovar dal, stir-fried cabbage with mustard seeds, green beans, a yogurt and spinach raita, a turnip dish, and some custard apple ice cream. It was the perfect meal for a lovely, sunny winter afternoon.

    In Bombay, a common method for cooking vegetables is to put very little water in the pan. Instead, the vegetable is covered with a flat lid that has an indentation in it. Water is put in that indentation, and condensation from it keeps the vegetable moist. That was the method used to cook these bean sprouts.

    I find that most of my flat lids have indentations, so I use those. If you cannot find anything but a domed lid, put 5–6 tablespoons of water in the pan, cover tightly, and cook on very low heat for 20 minutes. Take a peek inside once or twice, and sprinkle in some more water if needed.

    SERVES 3

    • From the home of Anita Lal
    • 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
    • 1 medium onion (about 6 oz), peeled and chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
    • A 1½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
    • ½–1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped
    • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
    • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • ⅛–¼ teaspoon nice red chili powder
    • 3 cups Indian-style mung bean sprouts (see this page)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3–4 cherry tomatoes, cut into ½ inch dice
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

    1. Put the oil into a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and fry for 6–7 minutes or until they brown a bit. Now add the garlic, ginger, and green chilies. Stir for 2–3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the ground coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. Put the pan back on the heat and stir for a minute. Add the bean sprouts, 4 tablespoons of water, and the salt. Stir a few times, going all the way to the bottom, then cover and reduce the heat to very low. If you have a flat lid with an indentation in it, pour water into the indentation, replacing the water as needed. If you do not have such a lid, keep an eye on the sprouts, sprinkling in a little water when the bottom seems to have dried out. Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the bean sprouts are tender.

    2. Transfer to a serving dish when ready to eat, and garnish with the tomatoes and fresh cilantro.