Who knew? The ancients knew and now science is just catching up! Attended a conference this week where the great medical anthropologist, Alberto Villoldo spoke about neurogenesis—the body’s process of creating new neurons. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is essential to this process, the lack of which is found in people with Alzheimer’s, depression, anorexia, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“Power Up Your Brain”, his book, relates the power of turmeric among several other sacred foods, like ghee and virgin coconut oil, as a precursor to BDNF. So do your brain (and mood) a favor and begin to cook with turmeric, Punjabi style. Here is a simple recipe, loaded with healing herbs, amazing mung beans and miraculous turmeric. 

               Mung Beans: Punjabi Style

Yield: 5 cups

1¼ cups whole green lentils (mung beans)

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2-inch piece ginger, minced

3 tablespoons canola oil or ghee

1 small tomato (optional)

1 teaspoon garam masala or toasted cumin seed (optional)

         Pick over lentils and wash thoroughly. Put into a medium pot with 7 cups water, the salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should begin to open and thicken. Or put in a slow cooker or pressure cooker for slower or faster cooking.

         In a separate small pan, sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil until lightly browned. Add the chopped tomato, if using. Stir-fry for a minute. The lentils may be thinned with a little more water if desired. Before adding the aromatics tardka to the cooked lentils. Sprinkle with the garam masala or tasted cumin, if you wish, before serving.