Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cooking With French Bean Seeds

French beans are widely grown in our region. When the weather turns cooler the markets get flooded with the seeds. They come in such gorgeous shades of purple and magenta that the red kidney beans pale in comparison. French beans are available throughout the year but when it comes to the seeds, now is the time.
The most popular way of cooking them is like cooking rajma/red kidney beans. But soaked and boiled beans can be added to vegetable preparations. We also team them up with smoked fish for a tasty curried dal with the addition of the usual spices like onions, ginger, garlic, chillies, coriander, cumin, and garnished with fresh coriander. Pieces of chunky smoked meat is another wonderful ingredient that goes so well in this kind of cooking.
Drying the seeds in the sun
This recipe (in the first photo) is cooked like dal. The dish goes very well with rice as well as many of our flatbreads.
200 grams French beans (seeds)
2 onions, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1" piece of ginger, ground
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Half tsp cumin powder
A quarter tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste 
2 tsp vegetable oil
2-3 tejpatta
A bunch of coriander leaves and stems for the garnish

Wash and soak the French bean seeds for a few hours. Boil in the pressure cooker in the same water till soft but not mushy.
Heat the oil in a pan. When it comes to smoking point, throw in the tejpatta
Add the onions and fry till they turn translucent.
Add the rest of the spices and continue to cook for a few minutes.
Put in the tomatoes, stir well. Season with salt.
When the mixture comes together and looks good, add the cooked beans.
Let it cook for another five minutes before taking it off the heat.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the coriander leaves and stems.

The coriander and cumin powder that I used were roasted and ground. I keep small batches of roasted spices. The flavour is much better that way but they need to be used soon as the smell and the freshness goes off fast.
When using smoked meat to cook the beans, the preferred garnish is serrated coriander.

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