14 March 2008

100 Posts!

To celebrate my 100th post, I figured I'd share a recipe (something I haven't done in a while) for you lot to give a try when you're at home. I recently got a LOAD of green beans from my grocery store on sale. I also had a bunch of boiled potatoes lying around, so I decided on a twisted version of a South Indian beans curry. Traditionally, you'd add shaved cocoanut to the dish, but I ran out of cocoanut. Instead, I decided to use a tin of cocoanut milk instead. Also, potatoes aren't strictly traditional, but they're certainly welcome in my house! Eat these with flatbread or rice. You can omit the cocoanut completely if you're watching your fat intake, of course. The reason that we cut the green beans so small is so that it's easier to eat with rice.

1 lb green beans, chopped into 1/4 pieces
1 lb potatoes, boiled and cubed (optional)
1 large onion, diced finely (optional)
14 oz cocoanut milk (tinned or fresh; optional)
14 oz water (to wash out the tin of cocoanut milk; optional)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black or white mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

In a wok, or large pot, heat the teaspoon of oil over high heat until very hot. When the oil gets hot (you'll notice it go from thick and viscous to a lot more liquidy, and it'll easily coat the bottom of the pot), swirl the oil around a bit to coat the bottom of your pot. Add the mustard seeds, and cover the lid of the pot. When you hear the seeds begin to pop, remove the pot from the heat, and wait until the popping subsides a bit. Open the lid, and add the cumin seeds. Put the pot back on the heat. When the cumin seeds turn a darker brown colour, add the onions. Sprinkle in a dash of salt.

Drop down the heat to medium high, and cook the onions until they're a light brown colour. Don't worry if you find the onions sticking to the bottom of the pot. The rest of the stuff you're adding is going to help scrape it all up. If you feel like the pan is too dry, feel free to add a bit more oil, and stir it all around. The salt should help draw out enough water from the onions, so that you don't get a dry pan.

If you don't want to use onions, simply skip this step, and add the chopped green beans immediately after the cumin turns darker.

Once your onions get to the colour of lightly cooked toast, add the chopped green beans. Stir the beans around in the pan vigourously, so that the seeds and onions combine completely with the beans. Sprinkle in the turmeric powder, and stir everything around in your pot, so that the turmeric is evenly distributed. Don't worry if you see little pockets of turmeric forming. They'll dissolve once you add the water or cocoanut milk.

Let the beans cook for about five minutes or so, over medium heat. Increase the flame to as high as it'll go once the beans have cooked for five minutes. Add the cocoanut milk, water, and the cubed potatoes. You'll want to get the liquid to come up to a full, rolling boil, so that the potatoes release some of their starch to make the gravy more thick and creamy. Let the cocoanut milk and water boil for about five minutes. Stir as the water comes up to a boil, so that you can scrape up any yummies that have stuck to the bottom, and completely integrate all the spices thoroughly.

Turn off the heat once the liquid has boiled for five minutes, and cover your pot. Let it sit for about ten minutes (if you can wait!), so that everything has a chance to settle. If it's still to liquid for your liking, feel free to take a potato masher, and smash up the potatoes some more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish if you'd like.

Optional garnish:
Try any one of these (or combinations thereof) to jazz up the final dish.
- minced roasted red pepper
- curry leaves
- minced chili peppers
- cilantro or parsley, minced
- touch of paprika
- shaved toasted almonds
- toasted cashews
- finely grated ginger
- few cloves of roasted garlic
- before serving, some fresh chopped tomato
- toasted pumpkin seeds

Variations:

- instead of potatoes, use sweet potatoes for a boost in vitamins and minerals
- use peas instead of green beans
- add in three or four cloves of garlic along with the onions
- instead of cocoanut milk, grind 1/2 cup of roasted nuts (your choice) with 2 cups of water in a blender.
- If you don't like onions and garlic, omit them, and add a dash of asafoetida when you add the mustard seeds to the hot fat (about 1/8 tsp)
- If you're using frozen green beans, thaw them, and chop the pieces into half, if you have the patience. Avoid tinned green beans for this recipe. They'll taste ... odd.
- Instead of cooking it all on the stove, do it in the oven. To do this, pop the spices on the stove, and add the onions. When the onions are translucent, add the cocoanut milk, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Turn off the heat, and stir in the uncooked green beans and boiled potatoes. Stir in five or six cups of cooked rice. Transfer to a casserole dish or other oven safe dish, and bake in the oven at 350 for about 35 - 45 minutes. Sprinkle on a generous heap of bread crumbs, and bake for another ten minutes or so. Yummy!