It's that time again already - welcome back, Sweetnicks! Glad you had a wonderful holiday!
My entry this week is avarakkai - a kind of flat broad green bean that tastes a bit like runner beans but is way better than that! I would give the English name for this vegetable, but I dont know what it's called. So it's going to stay Tamil and be known as avarakkai.
Avarakkai really are my favourite kind of fresh beans. Nowadays French beans (or snap beans) have had the stringy bit bred right out of them, but avarakkai need the string removing before slicing.
You can cook it with sliced onions or add fresh grated coconut to it once it's done, and both versions are nice in their own way. But I like it best the way my mother makes it for me - which is simply sliced, seasoned and pan fried. It's best not overcooked (even though I like it shrivelled) and if, like me, you like the natural, sort of juicy taste of fresh green beans, this is the only way to have them!
I got my avarakkai from a vegetable shop in Southampton last weekend - it was a revelation to see just how much variety there was in groceries "down south", as they call it... all sorts of vegetables and fruit from all over the world, some that I knew and some that I didnt.To think I thought Birmingham was good for fresh "Indian" vegetables...!
I would have loved to experiment with some of the unknown (to me) vegetables, but I didnt buy any because I knew I wouldnt have enough time to do them justice... there wouldnt have been much point buying stuff that would have just gone waste. But how I wish that variety was available closer home!
Oh well. That's what I get for living up North.
Recipe for: Avarakkai curry
1/4 kg avarakkai (3 cupfuls when sliced)
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp garlic-sesame molagapodi (optional)
2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder if you have it
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a pan and do the seasoning, covering the pan till the mustard seeds have popped.
2. Toss in the sliced avarakkai and stir well to coat.
3. Turn the heat down low and cover the pan, letting the beans steam-cook for 8-10 minutes.
4. Uncover the pan and add salt to taste. Mix and turn the heat up for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans start to become a bit brownish.
5. Serve hot as a side dish with steamed rice and sambar or other South-Indian gravy preparation.