This summer I resolved to try out the summer vegetables that show up in every market I visit. While I always ate all vegetables and cleaned my plate without as much as a whimper, there are vegetables that I dislike. Tinda is one of them. But I bought it, made it, and guess what, ate it too. Likewise, I bought cluster beans and yard long beans, snake gourd and bottle gourd, and everything else that summer threw at me. What worried me was the fact that if I didn’t make certain vegetables, I could no longer retain my title of “not-at-all-picky eater”. Moreover, if and when I have children, I figured my likes and dislikes should not govern their meals. If I forget about a certain vegetable over time, by the time I have children, I might have erased memories of some vegetables from my brain completely. Now that I have a blog, I can cook these vegetables, enjoy them in different ways and save them here for eternity.
Cluster beans (known as Gawarfali in Hindi, Mitkesaang in Konkani, Kotthavarangai in Tamil, Mattikaya in Telugu) happen to be the variety of beans that takes the longest to cook. Appa’s grandmother used to call it, “Avasarathukku edhiri” (loosely translated as the enemy of emergency/urgency). I have learnt that the best way to cook these is in my pressure cooker. Amma cooks them in advance and freezes them so that she can use them at a moment’s notice.
I came across this recipe in Tarla Dalal’s Rajasthani Cookbook and modified it immediately and set to work. (My system is not ready yet for the heat of Rajasthani food and given some health problems I had recently, I am sure it never will be.) It helped that I’d cleaned, strung and chopped the beans earlier. This can be really time consuming otherwise.
2 cups Cluster Beans, chopped, pressure cooked and drained
1 cup Curds
1 tbsp Gram Flour (Besan)
1 tsp Chilli Powder
½ tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Oil
¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
¼ tsp Asafoetida
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
Salt to taste
Beat the curds with the gram flour, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. (A friend recently told me to use the blender to get the perfect texture while beating curds rather than use a whisk.)
Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the mustard and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the fennel seeds. As soon as the fennel crackles, add the curd mixture and bring to a boil over low heat, while stirring continuously. Add the cooked cluster beans and cook for another 5 minutes.
We had this with rotis for lunch and I know I will make it again next summer. For this summer, I have several other recipes to try out with this vegetable.