There is nothing better than a story from the kitchen garden! You are in for a sensory experience.
From the wet, brown soil after watering to the expanse of the green creeper, growing almost wild and taking up every inch of space with its long tendrils, the visual and nasal appeal in the kitchen garden is sensorial rich. Stand under the canopy created and gaze at the little purplish white flowers, some maturing to little pods, other pods stout and ready for harvest. Wonder how the plants grow, spring forth leaves and flowers, and why only certain have this colour? Nature even sends forth the correct bird or bee to match the flower! On the pomegranate’s ruby red flower tweets the tiny indigo coloured Sunbird, its long beak stuck inside the flower to extract the sweetness. On the bean creeper comes the large indigo Bumble bee. It hovers aound the flowers pollinating them in the process ‘zeee zeee, hmmm…’ as if to say “don’t disturb the harmony and let nature do its work.”
Next comes the joy of harvesting! pluck, pluck, snap. . . Tuck the pods into the container, bring the bounty to the kitchen counter. Take a deep breath, run your fingers through the shiny bean pods. Look at their colour and tender skin. There is NO fragrance to the bean or flower, but ever wondered how the bee or bird got attracted to the flower?
Back in the kitchen, continue the sensory titilation and mindful cooking.
Sit down to string the beans from both ends. open the pods to release the young seeds. As they are home grown they may not have insects inside (but ones form the market, be careful to discard pods with caterpillars crawling inside). Wash and dry the opened pods well, keep aside. Prepare other ingredients. Google check the different names these beans have (Chikudkaya, ghevda, papdi , Fava beans …).
They are extremely nutritious with loads of iron, potassium and fibre. These legumes generally grow in mild winters and the ‘seed to crop’ time is about 3 months. Being a legume variety, they enrich the soil, rather than taking away nutrients…so cut back the roots and leaves after harvesting and dig them back into the soil to fertilize it. They are hardy, and dont need much manure, but need plenty of winter sun. The creeper grows fast and wild, be prepared to make a canopy in advance, place a net over it, to allow the tendrils to hold on. The tri foliate leaves are slightly rough, tending to hide the pods under them.
Ingredients for the stir fry vegetable
500 gms. flat beans /pods opened/seeds retained
1 or 2 brinjals or carrot
1 medium size onion
1 cup coconut grated fresh or dry powder
100 gms roasted peanuts or bengal gram (optional, only for nutrition and texture)
3-4 sprigs of curry leaves (or coriander, optional)
masala of choice (roasted and powdered cumin, coriander, sesame seeds is my choice)
4-5 dry red chillies or adjust
salt to taste
1/2 spoon jaggery or sugar ( to cut out any bitterness)
Tempering – with 1 ladle of cooking oil + small spoon mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1 spoon turmeric powder)
Par boil the stringed beans with the seeds in 2 cups salted water for 5 mins, drain and keep aside.
Prepare the tempering in a heavy iron wok preferably (to add minerals to our food) or use traditional pan or kadhai. Heat the oil and add the tempering, to splutter. Add the chopped brinjal or carrot, salt, curry leaves, peanuts, dry chillies and stir fry for 2-6 minutes. Add the par boiled beans, adjust salt, jaggery and add few spoons of water if required. Beans contain fibre and iron, take a while to cook. Do not cover, the green colour may diminish.
Keep stirring and cook till edible or tender. Switch off gas, remove. Add grated coconut and mix. This adds to texture, flavour and nutrition. Serve hot with warm rice or as side dish with Roti.
‘Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, soil and sky as canvas‘
What’s growing in your garden or terrace pots? How do you cook these legumes? Do you like gardening, why? Let’s hear and share some photos.