There are so many varieties of beans in the world. Each has an importance in different cuisines all over the world. While most of us are familiar with the more popular beans like French beans, lima beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, there are so many more varieties.
One such bean is the hyacinth bean or Indian Bean which is very popular in India. There are two varieties of these beans, the short and slightly broad ones called papdi and the long thin ones called valor or valor papdi in Gujarati. Both the beans when in season(usually during winter) are green and tender with soft small beans. At this stage the beans are edible with the pods as they are tender. Once they mature, the pods are not edible, they become hard and the beans are much larger and plump. These beans can be used fresh. Dry ones that are available in the market need to be soaked in warm water before using. Dried beans are called Vaal in Gujarati.
We are fortunate enough to get most of the Indian vegetables in Kenya. Whenever valor is in season, I make the best use of them, enjoy them with rotlis and daal. The beans and pods when eaten raw are slightly bitter. However, magically that tends to disappear. Its common to pair valor with brinjals, peas, potatoes, pigeon peas and methi muthia. Its also added to the famous Gujarati Udhiyu. My family likes the sabji, shaak or curry with brinjal and a few peas added to it.
Some of the health benefits of fresh green beans are:
- they are low in calories
- are rich in dietary fibers
- are rich in Vitamin A, B and C
- are rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium.
Making Valor nu shaak is easy, it actually takes time to get them ready for cooking. Both ends are snapped off, pulling the side threads along it. The two parts of the pod are pulled apart to expose the inner seeds. Both sides of the pods are then snapped into halves or thirds or left whole if small.
1 cup fresh peas
1 medium brinjal (aubergine, eggplant)
2 tbsps oil
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp chilli paste
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain, ajmo)
¼ tsp asafoetida (hing)
½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
2 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jiru)
¼ tsp sugar
1 to 1¼ tsp salt
3 tbsps chopped fresh coriander
- Wash the valor. Snap the ends and remove them. Split open the pod. Snap into nearly 1 inch pieces. Check for wiggly worms.
- Cut the brinjal into medium cubes and leave in the water till required.
- Chop the garlic finely.
- Mix the valor, peas and brinjal.
- Heat oil in a wide pan.
- Add mustard, carom seeds. When they splutter, add asafoetida and garlic. Stir fry the garlic till it just begins to turn pink.
- Add turmeric powder, chilli and ginger paste. Mix well.
- Add the vegetables.
- Add salt and sugar and mix well.
- Cover the pan and cook the vegetable over low heat.
- Usually the water that comes out from the valor and brinjal is enough, but if the vegetable begins to stick to the pan, add ¼ cup of water.
- Cook till the vegetables are done. Add coriander cumin powder. Mix well.
- Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.
- Serve with dal and hot chappati.
- For a different taste add 2 tbsps of tomato puree when the vegetable is done. Cover and leave for 5 minutes.
- To make dhana jiru, roast 1 part coriander seeds over low heat. Then roast ¼ part cumin seeds. Stir all the time, roast till you hear a crackling sound. Grind both together and store in an airtight container.
- Prepare the vegetable ahead and warm it up before serving.
- You can make valor with potatoes, fresh pigeon peas, corn, etc.
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You may want to check out the following Gujarati shaak: