The morning slants of sunlight are a little sluggish. A little less dazzling. As if this is the beginning. The beginning of summer’s end.
This week has been a bit of whirlwind for me. I’m perpetually swamped, and I was doubtful if I could keep up with the posting schedule. However, in the midst of all the busyness, chaos, insecurities and half broken things, I had a few stolen moments.
A few moments of repose. To smile. To breathe. And to stop by and say hello.
Not much to say about this dish, except that it’s really, really good. It’s the sort of simple, rustic food that fills your kitchen with delicious fragrance and warms your body from the inside out, summer or winter. It’s hugely popular with my family, and appears on our dining table very often.
There’s nothing like the comfort of raw, earthy beans, simmering away to deliciousness. Add a handful of starchy, green bananas, and ah—you have a plate of nourishing food with contrasting textures and finger-licking flavors.
Red mung beans, known as vanpayar in Malayalam, has a nutty flavor and is a rich source of fibre among other nutrients. And green banana? Well, banana is a staple food in Kerala. Raw, green banana, with a potato-like flavor, is used as a veggie, and cooked in many of the same ways as a potato. Red beans with green banana is a delicious pairing. There’s no daunting list of ingredients, yet the end result is simply scrumptious. The only problem is, it needs a bit of planning ahead—well, dry beans are not exactly fast food, you know. A couple of hours of soaking, preferably overnight, rehydrates the legumes for even cooking. Reduces the cooking time too. Just take care not to overcook to the point of mushiness.
Finally, in terms of photography, I’ve tried to create a sense of warmth and hominess with rustic styling. Something that goes with simple, honest, country-style food. Any thoughts?
Okay. Time to enjoy this protein rich, nutrient dense legume, a classic staple with steamed rice.
Spiced Red Beans and Green Banana — Kaya Vanpayar Mezhukkupuratti
Prep+cooking: 40 min, plus soaking time
1/3 cup dried, whole red mung beans (vanpayar)
3 cups unripe green bananas, rinsed, peeled and cut into chunks
pinch turmeric powder (optional)
½ cup shallots, peeled
1 ½ -2 teaspoons red chili flakes
½ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
3 sprigs fresh curry leaves
salt, to taste
3 teaspoon oil
water, as needed
Wash and soak the beans overnight. Drain in a colander, and discard the soaking liquid.
Place beans with ¾ cup water in a small pressure cooker (I used 2-liter cooker), add 4 curry leaves, torn, and just enough salt to taste. Lock the lid in place and bring to full boiling pressure on high heat (the cooker whistles when it reaches high pressure). Then reduce heat to low, and cook for 7 minutes more. Take off heat and allow pressure to release naturally. Once cool, check the beans—it should be tender but not mushy; reserve cooking stock. The cooking time may vary depending on the bean and pressure cooker used.
Meanwhile, prep and cook the banana. Slice the ends of the banana and lightly peel the skin with a peeler. Cut into small dices and soak in salted water for 2 minutes; rinse well, kneading to wash out the stickiness; drain water. Place in a saucepan with 1 ½ cups water, pinch turmeric powder, if using, and salt to taste. Cook until tender and water is almost evaporated.
Pound the shallots in a mortar and pestle until just coarsely crushed, set aside.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chili flakes and curry leaves; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Tip in shallots and stir-fry until they begin to soften, and then add chili powder. Now mix in beans and banana with the reserved cooking stocks. Boil until the sauce thickens and is almost absorbed, about 3-5 minutes, then take off heat. Check seasoning. Drizzle a bit of coconut oil on top, if you like.
Serve hot with steamed rice, or warm rotis.
Tastes even better the next day, refrigerate any leftovers.
And now it's suitcases to pack and flights to catch.
Until next time, have a beautiful week everyone! ♥