Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sbai Rujung/A Dish Of Beans

One kind of bean that is common in our region, particularly in the hilly district of Assam, Dima Hasao, is this one. A variety of jack-bean, it resembles the black-eyed ones but the seeds are speckled. In my mother tongue the name of this bean Sbai rujung literally translates to "carry". It must have got its name because it's happy enough to carry its own load on a pole and will bear fruit generously without the luxury of a trellis that's usually reserved for the various varieties of hyacinth beans. Planted during the same time as corn, both crops are harvested towards the end of July and in August.

The blooms are in such a pretty shade of yellow. You can imagine how a row of blooming beans will look! The beans come in more mottled shades too. I won't be able to say about the blooms of those varieties as the ones I have planted and also seen were always yellow. With garden produce that have long associations one usually have images tucked away in the crevices of the mind. The sight of these beans reminds me of my parents' backyard with mats laid out and the beans basking in the sun! In the strong sun, the beans would burst with a snap and a crackle thus making it easier to separate the "chaff from the grain". And then they would be stored to be taken out a regular intervals, soaked overnight to be cooked on their own like dal or with smoked meat or dried fish. These were never bought from the market then. But now they are easily available in neat packets and in the amount that you need.

The first picture shows the simplest dish of beans. The beans were soaked overnight and the cooked in the pressure cooker with turmeric powder and salt. Then in a bit of oil I fried up some finely chopped onions, added some garlic and ginger paste, two chopped green chillies, a quarter teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder and chopped tomatoes. Then the beans were added and cooked for a few more minutes. The garnishing was done with a generous handful of of chopped coriander leaves.
Smoked meat enhances the taste of this dish. The meat is fried with spices and then the cooked beans are added. In the case of dried fish, the fish pieces are lightly fried and added to the dal. Whatever way the dish is cooked, it goes very well with steaming hot rice.

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This is a re-post from my old blog. I was going through some of the food pictures and thought this was worth sharing.
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