2017 has been the year of travel for me. Discovering my own country a little at a time. This March, I hosted my first food photography workshop in Coorg. Now I had never heard about Coorg till a few years ago. It is one of the most beautifully kept secrets of India so far, for me. It is a small region in the state of Karnataka. It is so rich in plant life, coffee and spices and its people are so wonderful.
The thing about Coorg is that it is quite far from one of the main airports. A six-seven hour drive. I am amazed at the women that attended the workshop because this did not deter them from signing up. It was also a fantastic thing that it was so far, because I got to see the countryside which I normally wouldn’t in that part of the country. It was on one of those drives there that I saw this man, selling, by the roadside, heaps and heaps of a flat bean kind of vegetable. I saw it once and then I saw it often enough to stop my car and ask what it was. In India it is called sem beans. In English it is the green fava bean. Now the fava bean in the west looks much bigger and fatter and this one is a lot smaller but just as delicious. The person selling it convinced to buy some to take on the plane! And I’m so glad I did.
I brought the beans back home to my parents house near Delhi, in much excitement only for mom to kind of look at my enthusiasm with some curiosity. Sem beans are not uncommon in India I suppose, but for me they were a marvel. I was like a kid showing of my spoils! I was not so happy with my mothers lack of interest. 🙂
Nevertheless I set about trying to cook it. Now in India, my mom is not well and has a lady that does the cooking and helping her around. At the mention of me peeling these beans was not looked upon to kindly by Elizabeth, the maid either. Argh! I thought. Let me cook! I guess I was taking over Elizabeth’s space. So after some thought I decided to recede and let her do it under my instructions.
I cooked the beans with just the basic indian spices; coriander powder, turmeric, chilli powder and some cumin seeds. So simple and very delicious and nutritious.
- 500 grams sem/fava beans (peeled or you can also use with skin on)
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 dried red chilies
- oil for frying
- salt to taste
- In a wok, warm the oil and add the cumin seeds and the dried chilies. Once the cumin seeds sputter, add the sem beans. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the dry spices and mix well. Cook for another 10-12 minutes.
- Add salt to taste and your beans are ready to eat.
- You can add these to a salad or eat with rice and some freshly made dal/lentils.