Friday, March 27, 2009

This Ugadi, Full of Beans

There's not much of a story to this dish, except that I saw these beans shelled and packed in my store and they looked so nice and green and convenient that I had to buy them.

Naturally, I had no clue what to do with them as I often don't after buying something which I usually don't.

Are your eyes glazing over after that sentence? I don't blame you, I would be confused myself if I hadn't been the one writing it. But anyway, the clutter-free, waste-free side of my conscience kicked in and I asked the woman who helps me at home what could be done with them. She said we could make a curry of them with tomatoes, onions/shallots and brinjal/eggplant. And that's what I did though I didn't really think it would be a good bet. But it was, we enjoyed it thoroughly. And you can bet that me being me, I will look for a completely new recipe next time I see shelled and convenient beans and forget all about this!

Before I get to the recipe, however, Happy Ugadi! Here's an article I want you to read on the occasion:

We eat neem flowers mixed with jaggery on New Year’s day to remind us of the bitter and sweet flavours that co-exist in life,” declared Gundu Rao, one of my favourite ‘uncles’, as he tugged affectionately at my plait. “Come tomorrow and taste some!” Never having ever eaten neem flowers, I screwed up my face at the thought, quite relieved that in my family we had no such custom. The next day, I hid from him. His words, however, made a deep impact on me as a 10-year-old, and I never forgot them.

Tender flowers, jaggery freshly obtained from the harvest of sugarcane, nascent green mangoes, young tamarind pods, the very things that make up the Ugadi pachadi burst into existence in this season and herald the coming of spring. These ingredients, perishable, short-lived, combine year after year to create something eternal and deeply symbolic, the readiness of human beings to accept and ride out the ups and downs of life. It is also true that most events, even those of a terrible nature, do not recur in our lives and these flowers and fruit, newly come into existence, serve as a visual reminder that the crises and joys of yesteryears are transient too.

... the important truth that we cannot talk about food without stumbling against the harsh realities of the world. Hunger and thirst exist, people die of famine, starvation. The question of hunger is a very disturbing one. Why is it that there are some endowed with plenty to the point of disregard and waste while there are others who have to beg food everyday in order to survive?

Now here's the recipe:

Broad beans, shelled: 1-1.5 cups
Shallots: A handful, peeled
Tomatoes: 2-3
Round Brinjal/Eggplant: 2, cut into 4-5 pieces each
Oil: 1 tsp
Mustard seed: 1/2 tsp
Cumin/Jeera: 1/4 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder: 1/2-1 tsp
Water: A cup
Salt: To taste

Cook or pressure cook the beans till just done.

In a pan, heat the oil, temper with the mustard and the cumin.

Now saute the shallots and once that's done, add the tomatoes. Add the turmeric and chilli powder and let the tomatoes cook for a while. Add some water to help them along.

Now add the brinjal and salt. Add the cooked beans. You could add more water here if you like. Let it stew until everything is cooked and thick. You can eat it with rice.

This is my entry to MLLA-9 being hosted this month by Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska for Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook


  1. hehe you are funny :) and getting fresh shelled broad beans is a luxury few can afford, esp if outside India. Happy Ugadi!

  2. Happy Ugadi, Sra.
    I have been told that neem flowers with jaggery is what they eat here for Diwali!
    As for a new recipe next time, that's how it should be. Variety is the spice of life.:D

  3. I love fresh "avro" as we call it in Konkani :)

    Happy Ugadi

  4. Happy Ugadi to you! And I looooovveee that pachadi which is a regular affair at home on Tamil New Year's day. This fresh avarakai payaru gravy is my favorite. Amma makes a tamarind kulambu which goes so very well with Raagi kali. This combo is very inviting!

  5. Happy Ugadi sra. We just woke up and into the usual weekday friday, will make something special for dinner later.
    Beans on Ugadi, run away from sra this evening! ;D

  6. Happy Ugadi Sra and starting the New Year with some deep thoughts and shelled beans will make it happier

  7. About the Neem Flowers, back home Feb-April we eat a lot of fried tender neem leaves. The bitterness is supposed to cleanse your system and neem is the best antiseptic

  8. happy Ugadi....i was thinking the same thing a few days there are people who are struggling with their woes of plenty and over-indulgence..paying huge amounts of money to lose weight and phony diets...and there are people in this world who have no idea if they are going to have another meal..while eating a meal that barely fills their stomach. moves on and we get to be gluttons ourselves when hunger sets in!! And btw. i am like you when i buy it first and think about it's use later...Happy ugadi Sra..hope your life is filled with sweet and not too much bitter...hugs....

  9. Nags, we get shelled beans in plastic packs, pity is, if you do weekly shopping, like I do, you can't buy much because they tend to brown very badly, even in the fridge. Happy Ugadi!
    Aparna, how interesting, I never knew that!
    Raaga, sounds a lot like avarakai, doesn't it?
    Jayashree, thank you. Busy, not blogging much these days?
    Ni, yeah, thanks to Shanti, the lady who helps me at home. She often exhorts me to add eggs to beans and carrot stir-fries, I've done it just once or twice.
    Asha, :-D Actually, these were made two weeks ago - I had to post it anyway and it was Ugadi so ...
    Sandeepa, my friend wrote that article, I thought she articulated what many of us feel very well. And yes, I have heard of that Bengali delicacy.

  10. Trust you to write something like that...happy Ugadi.

  11. And yes..Why is that you find it difficult to access my blog.. do my pages take a long time to load?

  12. I am ready for beans anytime of the day, if they are fresh even better. Sra, beans and brinjals make a great pair you will never go wrong pairing those two. Grandmom used to make vadagams with those neem flowers.

    Happy Ugadi!
    Beautiful article from your friend.

  13. Happy Ugadi Sra! My mom was just talking about the new neem leaves last week. She was going to saute it with eggplants... bengali style!

  14. If these are the beans I think they are - i usually make kuzhambu/kootu with it. This curry sounds great too. Happy Ugadi Sra.
    I love that pachadi though i prefer the version without the neem flowers stirred in.

  15. Happy Ugadi, Sra! We Kannadigas have "bevu-bella", the neem-jaggery combi every ugadi too. the avarekayi curry looks great!

  16. Ugadi Wishes to u Sra..Beans are really inviting me to ur home, can u let me know is there anything left out..

  17. Happy Ugadi, Fresh beans I got to wait summer to get it here!

  18. Happy Ugadi, Sra. We eat neem flowers & jaggery too every year, I somehow always look fwd to eating this every year

  19. Hi Sra,
    Happy Ugadi! Some co-workers of mine got Ugadi Pachadi to work today and I got to taste it. Loved the tangy-sweet flavors.


  20. Sra,
    happy Ugadi and the dish looks so delicious to me..
    we are eating neem leaves here fried with brinjals once a while ..It says that acts as antidote to many diseases ..
    and that was so thoughtful at the end ...I am still clueless about that...
    hugs and smiles

  21. I like the looks of this. And I like that it looks very simple to make. Yum!

    Happy Ugadi!


  22. looks so good Sra! Hope you had a wonderful Ugadi! Virodhi Naama Samvatsara Subhakankshalu!

  23. Wish you a happu ugadi Sra! Loved that write up on all ingredients- ugadi!

  24. Ooooh! I also buy things like that only :D

    This is called Avarekai in Kannada and I have a coupla recipes for this. Let me knw if you want some!

  25. Hope you had a great Ugadi Sra! I too buy stuff first and then figure out what to do with it later, but I do tend to waste a lot doing that. I am trying to be a more mindful shopper lately :)

  26. Nice recipe. I love avarai or mochai as it is popularly known here.:)

  27. i love the look of that dish!!!

  28. my first time here sra, your posts are a lovely read :)

  29. The beans dish looks absolutely delicious!

  30. Rachel, I swear, it came entirely naturally. It wasn't like I mulled over it for hours or even minutes. And yes, your pages take a while to load, but that's not it, I couldn't get in.
    Indo, we never made brinjals and beans back in our parts, I've only seen it in TN.
    Mandira, yeah, here, they make a rasam with them too
    Laavanya, the neem flowers are what make it the Ugadi Pachadi! :-) Can't hope for life without at least a little bitterness, I guess.
    Vani, thanks. My friend was complaining her cook made a huge bowl of the pachadi and what should she do with it.
    Lavi, thanks, will let you know. :-D
    Cham, yeah, we're quite lucky that way, and anyway, summer started early this year
    Deesha, me too, I quite like the taste.
    Mamatha, yes, the mango and the banana and jaggery really outweigh the bitterness.
    Jaya, once in hostel, when there was cholera in town, they brewed neem tea for us and asked us to drink it.
    Paz, yep, it's v simple.
    Uma, thanks, to you too
    Dibs, yes, I thought it was a necessary read, thanks
    A_and_N, Thanks. Haven't found them again after this! I'm trying to shop better ...
    Sig, me too, but old habits die hard.
    Srividya, aren't mochai smaller? Bee, thanks, it turned out better than I expected lookswise too Aquadaze, thanks, and welcome.
    homecooked said...
    Cynic, appy ugadi to you too!

  31. HAppy Ugadi sra:) Delish looking beans ! I miss being in India esp during festivals!!

  32. You are too much!

    I too see various fresh beans at the market and find myself in the same predicament (you know, the one with the glazed over sentence) :)

  33. Love it and follow the same recipe only. No fresh one but frozen one. You're lucky enough to get them freshly.

  34. thanks for dropping by, sra! hope to get back to blogging soon, currently it feels like a lot of fun..:)

  35. Packed with protein! Yummy!

  36. "Naturally, I had no clue what to do with them as I often don't after buying something which I usually don't."

    Sra, I understand *completely*. Hence my special relationship with Google, cookbooks of every description, and the blogs :):)

    Yummy looking beans -- hope you had a happy holiday :)

  37. Eating sugared flowers? How lovely is that? I've had violets and roses; finding neem, however, will take some doing. ; }

    I feel your funny pain, Sra - as generally knowledgeable as I am, there are plenty of foods I pick up out of keen curiosity, figuring out what I will prepare with them after the purchase.


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