Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Bean has gained Broader Appeal

The truth is that I did not grow up a lover of hyacinth beans, aka: avarakkai; vaal; bulay (Tagalog); or đậu ván (vietnamese), actually I detested them after we grew a variety one summer that had the most awful stench to the growing bean pods. As “chief picker” it was my responsibility to assist my grandma pick the pods off the vines and no matter what I soap I used I was unable to wash the awful smelling natural oils coating the pods from my hands after picking, which made me despise these beans all through my childhood. However decades later while living in Singapore I rediscovered these beans cooked Nepali style and I instantly fell in love with the vegetable. Thankfully the beans no longer have any off-smelling oils to them nowadays!

The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity; finely chopped beans, finely diced potatoes, tons of grated garlic and voila……….a dish that sure to please the most difficult of palates. I enjoy Nepali vegetarian cuisine as I feel they tend to focus on the flavor of vegetables without drowning a dish with a variety of herbs and spices. Another addition that makes this dish a winner is the use of Potatoes, now who can resist that in any form? I’ve enclosed some nutritive facts about the beans and hope that you will give this vegetable a chance at your dining table.

Lablab, are a variety of beans native to South East Asia. These beans, like its cousins are very easy to grow and are tremendously nutritious, Broad beans are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, potassium and iron. They also contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the brain's reward and motivation system). A study has found that regions of the world that consume considerable amounts of broad beans in their diet also have lower cases of epilepsy.

Aloo Sem Nepali Style
1 lb lablab/broad beans, rinsed and chopped finely
½ lb potatoes, rinsed and chopped into small cubes with skin on
½ a pod of garlic, peeled and grated (approx 2-3 tbsp)
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2-3 tsp oil
Juice of 1 lime or half a lemon
Salt to taste
A sprig of curry leaves (optional)
Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and allow them to sputter, add curry leaves, grated garlic, turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and chopped potatoes. Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. When the potates are almost cooked add the chopped beans and sprinkle some water, cover and cook on low heat for another 10 minutes. Add lime juice when done. Serve with cooked white rice or serve on a toasted multigrain bread slice.