When ever our large clan gets together in Kerala, all the women folk converge at the kitchen table and you will hear them laughing and talking as their fingers fly splitting open long pods of beans into neat little piles of shiny plump little beans. We kids used to run around the group of aunties who didn't seem to mind or even notice us as they peeled and chopped onions, pounded spices, sizzled mustard seeds, stirred curries and efficiently cooked enough food to feed an army or one hungry brood!
This time when I visited Kerala, I very eagerly joined my aunts in the kitchen. They were very patient with how slow I was compared to them and they overlooked the fact my pile comprised of more pod bits. I still don't have the patience to carefully pry open even the stubborn tender parts of the bean pod which house the tiniest of beans so I break off that part of the pod with the skin though my aunts can coax a bean out of even the narrowest parts of the pods.
This simple garlicy and spicy stir fry of beans is made very often and it's one of my favourites. I could eat a bowlful and it is very easy to make, if you can get past the pesky shelling or do what I do and simply break up the pods into little sticks if you don't mind the skin like me.
I was very happy to see these long beans at the farmer's market here. I think they are called Red Chinese long beans here and are available all year round. As soon as I saw the bunch I immediately wanted to make them into this beans stir fry which is all I can imagine making with them! You can use any variety, even french beans which you wouldn't be able to shell but simply break up.
This type of preparation using just oil and spice sometimes onion and garlic is called "Mezhukkupuratti" in most parts of Kerala, meaning smeared with oil. It is often used to cook a variety of vegetables and is one of the most basic and popular ways to cook vegetables in South India. Thoran is a similar vegetable preparation but with the addition of shredded coconut and often tempered mustard seeds as well.
I know I post a lot of cake on this blog. I enjoy baking and I do love cake. But what we eat most of the time are simple vegetable or lentil dishes like this that get cooked in a hurry, usually about an hour before dinner time and it's too late and too dark to take pictures. This year I hope to share more of these delicious and healthy dishes which very unfairly didn't get the attention that they deserve. Hopefully this will motivate me to also start cooking earlier, not scramble around in the evening trying to throw a meal together. Thankfully quick, healthy meals like this can also be super delicious!
Kerala Beans Stirfry - Payar Mezhukkupuratti
- 1 bunch red Chinese long beans - (about 3 cups partly shelled and the narrow ones broken up )
- 2 tsp red chilli flakes
- 1 small sprig curry leaves
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or canola/other oil
- salt as required
- 1 small onion chopped or 3-4 shallots crushed
- 3-4 cloves of garlic crushed with a motar and pestle or flat of the knife
- Wash and then shell the beans after snapping off the ends of the bean, preferably with a group of talkative women to share this work with!
- Break up the narrower beans into small sticks
- Heat the oil in a skillet or wok and add the onions/shallots and salt stirring very occasionally until brown
- Add the garlic and stir till turning brown
- Add the curry leaves and red chilly flakes and stir
- Add the beans and stir so it is well coated in the masala
- Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of water, cover the skillet with a lid and let cook till tender.
- Serve with a mound of rice, yogurt/curd and pickle. Enjoy a healthy and delicious meal!
This post was supposed to be up yesterday for Meatless Monday and I am also sending it off to My Legume Love Affair hosted at Chez Cayenne and to Kerala Kitchen being hosted this month by Kaveri of Palakkad Chamayal