I never was a big green bean fan growing up. Mainly because the beans I was usually served weren't green at all but rather grey and flabby, the 90 pound weaklings of beans. They didn't look like they were full of vitamins and raring to go to work on my system but rather as though they'd spent their short bean life couch-surfing and watching Jersey Shore. They were skanky. What wouldn't be after being boiled for nearly an hour so they'd be "done" by the time they reached the table.
When I started cooking Indian food 20 years ago, a new world of beans opened up to me; different varieties of beans, different ways of preparing them, none of which involved cooking them for too long.
This last Meatless Monday, I decided to try green beans pan-sauteed in a chickpea flour nest.
The original recipe comes from Yamuna Devis' book The Vegetarian Table: India. This is my adaptation of this dish.
Wash and cut 1 and 1/2 lb of green beans into 1 inch pieces. Chinese long beans would be ideal for this but if you can't get them, (I couldn't) any type of good summer beans will do. Set them aside.
In a bowl mix together:
1/2 cup gram flour (chickpea flour)
2 tsps of garam masala
1 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of water
Whisk it into a thick batter and set it aside.
In a deep skillet or kadhai heat 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot toss in:
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the green beans.
Stir them around for a bit, then add in 1/2 cup of water.
Turn down the heat, put a cover on the pan and cook them for about 10 minutes or so till they are just tender.
Take the lid off the pan and pour the chickpea batter around the outside of the beans in a ring.
Let the batter firm up to a pancake-like texture.
Then drizzle 1 tbs of butter or ghee over the beans.
Sprinkle 3 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro over the whole thing and gently stir everything together so that the batter forms crisp little pieces of chickpea goodness.
Add a bit of salt if you wish and serve it up.
The contrast in textures and taste in this dish is great . I halved this recipe for the two of us when I made it the other day and I wish I hadn't, it was that good!
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