Dec 15, 2013

Hitikida Avare Sambhar (De-skinned Hyacinth beans Curry)


T will be proud to know that I figured out the botanical name of the delectable Avarekaalu  - It is called the Dolichos Lablab!
While Bengaluru orignally got its name from the boiled beans served to a Hoysala king who had lost his way hunting, Benda-kaalu-ooru (boiled beans place) has gone on to become the Silicon Valley of India thereby sending a sizeable amount of its populace to distant lands where this vegetable is never grown. But, thanks to a lot of enterprise in the food sector catering to the Desi populace in said distant lands, frozen varieties of the beans are easily available in most of the Indian grocery stores. We can now find this tasty bean in the frozen foods section under the name Surti Lilva Papdi. It does come with a setback of extremely small sized beans which makes it tough to de-skin. I simply use the beans whole and skip the step of de-skinning it because it would leave behind not much of the beans. Nevertheless we plough on with vigour to create a dish which has been the hallmark of my mother-in-law's cooking repertoire. She is the queen of the kootu which I am going to describe here while (pardon me) salivating for a taste of it.

Hitikida Avare simply means beans whose skin has been removed. It does require soaking of the beans overnight to make the skin soft enough to be removed. So plan in advance.

Hitikida Avare Sambhar

Servings: 6 cups of Sambhar or Curry
Prep Time: 12 hrs including the shelling, overnight soak and de-skinning   Cook Time: 30-40 mins

Ingredients

6 cups of Avarekayi (Beans with shells) or enough to get 2 cups of shelled beans
1 medium sized Tomato

To Grind

2 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Channa dal
1/2 tsp Urad dal
1 tsp Cumin seeds
4 Red Chillies (adjust to taste)
2 tbsp Coconut
1/2 Onion
4 Garlic pods
1 inch Cinnamon stick
2-3 Cloves
1 Star Anise (masala hoovu)

Instructions

Prep-work

  1. Shell the beans from the avarekayi pods (skip the step if using frozen shelled beans)
  2. Soak the beans overnight or for 6 hours in water, with water reaching above the level of the beans
  3. To remove skin - Hold the soaked bean between thumb and forefinger and gently apply pressure on it till the innards pop out of the skin. Discard the skin and save the de-skinned beans. 
  4. Tip : Aim the bean down towards a container so that the de-skinned beans pop right into it. 
  5. This step can be a family activity since it is a time consuming process. Kids will have a lot of fun with the beans flying all around them after popping out of the skin!
  6. I will post pictures of it, the next time I am around in India when this is in progress. 

Boil beans

  1. Boil the shelled, de-skinned beans in water along with some salt till soft to the touch. Do not over cook it else it will all get mashed. 
  2. Keep the beans and the water aside.

Grind the Masala

  1. Dry roast the coriander seeds, channa dal, urad dal and jeera in a heavy bottomed vessel and keep aside.
  2. Dry roast the coconut till lightly browned and dry. Keep aside
  3. To the same vessel, add a tsp of Oil (there will be some oil left over from the coconut) and shallow fry the onion, garlic, red chillies, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. 
  4. Once all the spices are cooled, grind them all together with 4 tbsp of boiled beans.

Bringing the Sambhar to life

  1. Add the ground masala to the boiled beans and water and cook on medium heat for around 5  minutes till combined
  2. Add the chopped tomato and allow the sambhar to boil for another 10 minutes. Add water to get the required consistency of sambhar. Do not make it too thick or too watery.
  3. Adjust the salt
  4. Temper with Mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida in a tsp of Oil
  5. Serve hot with Rice or Ragi Mudde
  6. Personaly I like it with chapathi, dose also. 
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