Getting down to the nitty gritty with some aloo-bean bhaaji-’’simply” delightful!

by Sunita on October 23, 2009

Sometimes, when I visit the supermarket, I look around at the row and rows of fruits and vegetables, all perfectly shaped and perfectly wrapped and all perfectly clean and wonder if we are living in  an over sanitised world.  Looking at all those perfectly formed and uniformly sized products, makes me ask- are we really so perfect? What’s wrong with the gnarled carrot or the weird looking tomato? What would happen if those perfectly formed vegetables were replaced by ”oddly”  ( though I would prefer to use the term ”natural”) formed ones, where each one is different to the other. Would we complain and stop buying? Is it harmful to our health?

What about those squeaky clean produces wrapped in plastic? Is it necessary to wrap each individual cabbage / cauliflower in one? If they weren’t so wrapped , would we not pick them up ?

Garlic from our tiny veggie patch

How bendy should a cucumber be, or how green should an asparagus be, or how long a carrot, how heavy a bunch of  grapes? Yes, the European Commission did have guidelines for that ( still does??please do not hesitate to enlighten me). Last year, I heard  that  those guidelines were going to be scrapped in order to  avoid wasting good food in times of global shortage. The standards are so strict that thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables are discarded each year because they are not beautiful or big enough. Farmers throw away mountains of cherries, onions, peas, plums and spinach among other fruit and vegetables (source). Amazing that many countries opposed the reforms at that time; I mean, how sensible is it to throw away perfectly edible food just because it is not bendy enough or long enough to the exact mm? Tch! Tch!

Now, what brought that on,you ask? Well, actually Dinesh and I both share a great love for fresh produce and wouldn’t mind any knobbly vegetable. But, I must admit that with no farmers markets very nearby, we do succumb to what the local supermarket has to offer. Perhaps we should start growing some more of our own! The other day, while returning from work, Dinesh came across two men on the roadside with a great supply of vegetables. And the vegetable lover in him stopped the car to have a look at them. That day, I had a very happy husband gushing over his loot like a child, and it was not long  before I joined in. Everything in the bag looked so fresh and earthy. The potatoes were still covered in earth, and yes, they were the best I’ve ever had for such a long time. We were on a potato spree, roasted, fried, boiled and mashed, we did it all. And yes, I didn’t mind the potatoes covered in earth or that the carrots bent at awkward angles ! Yes, we prefer that to something flown in from miles away, anytime!!

One of the things that frequently graces our eating table is a bowl of mixed vegetables- broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, squash, aubergine, plantain and so many others. And it does help that Rengoni and Agastya share our love for vegetables too. They will happily munch away on florets of broccoli/cauliflower or strips of cabbage or sticks of carrots and many others. Touch wood to that! So, a combination of a few of these vegetables are always there. Another favourite vegetable of ours are green beans. I add them to dals, steam or add them to accompany other vegetables in a dish.

The recipe below is a simple one with some green beans and potatoes and can be made with ease. It has very simple flavours and forms a nice side dish with rice or any Indian flat bread. I wouldn’t even mind devouring a bowl of this on it’s own. So, here’s how i made this aloo- bean bhaaji. Where I come from (Assam) we call this kind of dry vegetable dish as bhaaji)

What’s needed-

5-6 medium sized starchy potatoes, scrubbed well, chopped and boiled

1 C of 1-1 and 1/2 inch sized green bean pieces, steamed or boiled for a couple of minutes

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp of paas puron

1 whole red chilli, halved

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

2 tblsp of oil

1 small onion, sliced

salt to taste

How to-

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the paas puron, bay leaf and halved red chillies. When the seeds splutter, add the onions and cook till the onions soften.
  2. Add the turmeric powder, stir and add the potatoes and beans. Season with salt and stir for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and serve hot as a side dish with rice or some Indian flat breads.

That’s it! Wasn’t that simple? Good, starchy potatoes are best for this dish. Carrots, cut into sticks of the same length as the beans also go well in this dish Steam/boil them together with the beans, making sure they still retain their crunch.

And I did say, I could have a bowlful of this all in itself, didn’t I? The soft potatoes, the crunch of the beans and the very slight heat from the chillies, with the mild flavours from the turmeric, all blend together beautifully. No gimmicks here- this is simple, comfort food. And yes, I didn’t mind scrubbing off the grime to reach those lovely taters!

“Simply delightful” !

On that note, wishing all of you a great weekend ahead!

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ramya Kiran October 23, 2009 at 11:01 am

Looks wonderful and delicious!

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2 Sunita October 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Thanks Ramya; quick and easy too :-)

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3 indosungod October 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Absolutely, the picture perfect veggies are scary just like the stepford wives. Ridiculous the wastage that goes on in the name of perfection. We have an Amish market that I love to shop at tomatoes that have blemishes, waxless apples that don’t look pretty but taste delicious.
I have potates and the post reminded that I have some beans sitting in the fridge. I know what to cook for lunch :)

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4 Sunita October 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Me and Dinesh go crazy when we find some local produce, not shipped from miles away;may not be picture perfect ( though I think they look more beautiful), but they do taste so good!

Now, go and make lunch!! :-D

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5 indosungod October 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I did make this for lunch and everybody loved it .I absolutely love the fact that it is so simple. I made it a bit more spicy that’s all.

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6 Sunita October 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Glad you all liked the dish; it’s so simple, isn;t it :-)

7 ABowlOfMush October 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Look great! I love this dish, I always want to make a wrap with it, yum!

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8 Sunita October 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Thanks you; wrap sounds nice :-)

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9 hb October 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

The sight of fresh vegetables gives pushes me into the kitchen. Comfort food that is I say!

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10 Sunita October 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Thank you; and yes, fresh vegetables are inspiring indeed :-)

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11 Ben October 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm

I so miss the street markets in Mexico where the produce looks more natural than the mass-produced fruits an vegetables of the “first” world. Unfortunately the farmer’s markets here are outrageously expensive, so for now I’ll have to stick to the perfectly shaped produce, blah! I love that big bowl of vegetables. Hmm so delicious and comforting.

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12 Sunita October 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I agree, I too am dependent on the supermarket most of the time and i really don’t like it. Back in Assam, the farmer’s markets are cheaper than the supermarkets! The guys from whom we’ve started to buy the vegetables recently, give them away at dirt cheap prices and they taste so much better too :-)

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13 Brittany (He Cooks She Cooks) October 23, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I am from the States but currently living in Argentina where there isn’t the same demand for picture perfect produce. But just because things don’t look as pretty, doesn’t make them any less delicious. More often than not, they actually have more flavor!

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14 Sunita October 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Brittany, I cannot agree more; I would choose taste over looks any day :-)

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15 Lakshmi October 23, 2009 at 8:21 pm

I prefer the vegetables covered i mud and all odd shapes too. They just attract me more than the perfect shaped ones. Once cleaned and cooked, they taste more delicious.
The bhaaji looks delicious…never made aloo with neans. will try this soon and let you know.

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16 tigerfish October 23, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I enjoy Indian food a lot….I am lucky to find our site as it means more Indian food for me, yay!

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17 Rosa October 23, 2009 at 10:09 pm

A wonderful combination! That dish is for me…

Cheers,

Rosa

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18 Mona October 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I do not have a Farmers market near to my house too. There exist a few good ones in the downtown with lots of variety, and some in my area, but with so limited produce. So I usually frequent supermarkets only for my grocery shopping. I miss Indian Rythu Bazaars with loads of fresh organic produce grown with use of cow manure like you are talking about.
There are so many people in this world who are dying out of hunger, and I wonder how can people even think of discarding produce coz of silly reasons as said. Something has to be done!

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19 Sunita October 24, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Yes, it seems criminal to throw away so much of food in times like these.

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20 deeba October 25, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Cracker of a recipe Sunita. Just the way I like it. Good for Dinesh. I can feel his joy at FRESH veggies. Come winter here, and all the little farms by the road come alive with fresh produce. they even let u go in & pull out your own veggies! Pure bliss!

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21 Sudeshna October 26, 2009 at 5:24 am

I was not aware about the European commission on ridiculous looking vegetables and fruits. But when I read through your post, did a little bit of Google search, and there were thousands of links to choose from, the one that I clicked had a relief message saying that the EU standards have phased out, and as of now 26 types of veggies can be sold in any form that they are produced. You can have a look at this link here – http://bit.ly/1P1X5b

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22 Lakshmi November 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Sunita, I made this and it came out good. The aloo-beans combination was nice.

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