Sunday, January 19, 2014

Avarekayi gojju - creating drool worthy dishes from ingredients on its way to be discarded :-)

If you speak Kannada and saw my title of the post and if you are like me, you would have thought that I made a typo and said 'avarekayi' instead of 'avarekalu'. For the non-Kannada speaking readers, here is a description of the nuance I am talking about. 'Avarekayi' refers to the pod that holds the beans while 'Avarekalu' is the beans nestled inside the green pod. Now what is the big deal? Again, if you are like me, madly in love with avarekalu - (this being seasonal and tropical, getting it where I live currently is mostly a dream) you will be drooling at every rare sighting of this aromatic bean. But for last 2 years, I have found them in my grocery store atleast once a year (and twice when I was extremely lucky). Though it leaves a seriously visible dent in my finances, I can't stop myself from buying a couple of pounds on that one day when it appears in my local store. Many of my non-Kannadiga friends including BH's family doesn't seem to appreciate my un explainable drooling over this bean, all I can say to nay sayers and non-believers is, "Give it a try before you unfairly talk about it". Most of them are converts after a first taste. Long live Avarekalu!
Back to my title today, I did say avarekayi while I have been going on about how much I love the bean. In Karnataka, these beans are brought home, peeled, the beans are cooked and used in dish 1, 2 , 3, 4.... every day until the season is over and the stock is completely dry while the green empty pods are put outside the fence to feed the roaming cows. Oh, yes I come from a place where cows roam freely, atleast they used to when I left my town 15 years ago. Now with the unending traffic, they seem to not want to move about at all for the fear they might get bumped by a 2, 3, 4 or 6 wheeler. Anyways, the point I was making before I strayed off topic (much like the cow) is that we do not use the green pods, atleast I was not aware of it and nammamma never made anything out of it. I think the reason is you are smitten by the beans and most of the dishes in Karnataka need the bean to have grown fully and plump by which time the pods are pretty dry and tasteless, The only dish I have had which uses this pod in entirety is my favorite Gujarati recipe - Oondhiyu. The empty green pod is called 'sippe' in Kannada, a culinary derogative term to indicate a waste or byproduct :-). Why am I giving you a recipe of the sippe gojju or a curry made of the by product? There is a somewhat long story.., stay with me here and I promise I will treat you to a keeper recipe today.

I hadn't been to the grocery store in a couple of weeks as my refrigerator somehow seemed full all the time and finally when I went last week to do some Sankranthi shopping, I found a tub full of green avarekayi. I jumped, picked up a bag, filled it greedily to the brim before other like minded chefs and fans of the bean noticed it and very happily paid a 2 digit amount and came home. As always, DD wanted Avarekalu kadubu, this strange child of mine has some set food combinations and will not waver from them unless there is a calamity. So after dinner and clean up, I put the bag on the dining table to peel them and take out the beans. I got 3-4 good, plump beans for every 20 or 25 pods I picked and at the end of a 30 minute effort, I was left with a mountain of green peels and a small mouse sized bowl full of beans. The avarekayi had been picked way too young for the beans to have grown sufficiently and I had paid a ransom for the waste :-(. While I was sitting all bummed at the table, BH happened to pass by and asked why I had a long face. After listening to me, he very simply said, "make something with the pods". I know he has been a consultant and dishing out ideas is second nature to him but this seemed like a viable thing even though it came from a consultant :-) I do accept it had not occurred to me until then and will generously give all lateral thinking credit to the man.
Here was an idea at a 10,000 feet level, no details to substantiate and make something edible out of it. Now I had to think of what to make with that green mountain staring at me. It is strange how the brain works, a minute ago I was mournfully looking at that pile and thinking how a cow (or two) would have been made happy if I was in India, here I don't see cows easily let alone stray ones that could be fed the green waste from my kitchen.. I know I know I am going off track again but as soon BH uttered those words, within minutes I knew what I was going to make with it. There is another variety of vegetable from the same genre called chapparada avare kayi (Kannada) and chikkudukaya (Telugu) which we use to make many a dry curry with powders and also a gravy dish. Belonging to the same family of vegetables, there is some similarity between the two. I love my gojju any day and gojju it was going to be with the avarekayi. That was how a keeper dish was born in my kitchen. I am sure my mom and sister will have a hearty laugh to hear I used the pods in gojju, but then such is life.
I have a few different gojju recipes on the blog already, check in my Recipe Index under 'Tasty Gojju' category as there are too many to list here. Today's gojju however is very different from those already here and I was saving this for later, the same ingredients can be used with chapparada avarekayi/chikkudukayi also. As my story today has already grown long, I will stop here and give you the recipe quickly. The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity and unmatched flavors, don't go by the unassuming pictures.

How do you make Avarekayi gojju?
2 cups of thinly sliced avarekayi (see recipe for details)
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 Tsp turmeric powder
4-5 curry leaves
1 Tsp oil
small gooseberry sized tamarind
1 Tsp jaggery/brown sugar
2 Tblsp shredded coconut (fresh or frozen)
Gojju masala:
1 Tblsp mustard
1 Tsp chana dal
1/4 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1 Tsp oil
4-5 dry red chilies
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
1 Tsp oil
1/2 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp chana dal (optional)
1/4 Tsp Fenugreek (optional)
1-2 dry red chilies

How do you make Avarekayi gojju? 
  • Wash the avarekayi, see that these are tender and not full of plump beans. The way to test is the beans inside are either completely absent are very tiny and when you string the pods from the side, you do not get very thick strings. Basically you are looking for fresh, green and tender pods. 
  • String them and chop the ends and discard. 
  • Holding a few (as many as you can manage with hands), chop them into thin slices. 
  • Heat 1 Tblsp oil in a pan, add the chopped avarekayi, chopped curry leaves, turmeric powder, salt and mix. 
  • Cover and cook on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until the color changes to a light green and the strips look soft and cooked. 
  • In the meantime, heat 1 Tsp oil in a pan, add the ingredients listed under "Gojju Masala" and roast them until mustard starts to pop and chana dal and fenugreek turn golden brown. Do the roasting on medium heat. Switch off and let cool. 
  • Take the masala once cooled, add coconut, taramring and jaggary and blend it to a smooth paste using water. 
  • Add the ground masala to the cooked vegetable, mix, test for taste and adjust. 
  • This dish does not have a lot of gravy, but a wet curry with masala coating the vegetable. Let it boil for 4-5 minutes. 
  • Seasoning this with mustard and fenugreek is optional. Use the ingredients listed under seasoning if you prefer. 
  • Serve warm with rice or roti. 
  • Obviously this dish can be made with the chapparada avarekayi/chikkudukayi which is more easily and frequently available. 


Kaveri Venkatesh said...

We usually make only a dry dish with avarekai..this one sounds interesting...would love to try it sometime

NamsVeni Pothas said... favorite gojju . very tasty.

Premalatha Aravindhan said...

Healthy recipe,love this gojju...

Harini M said...

Healthy and yummy dish,happy to discover your space visit me some time too :)

rashmi tk said...

Interesting let me try

rashmi tk said...

Interesting let me try
.......I usually prepare dry Gt to try this. ..

Shwetha Vasist said...

Very tasty. Tried this gojju twice. My mother liked it. Felt happy.