AvarekaaLu palya/usli

Avarekai is apparently known as flat beans(I had to google for it!) in English and more popularly known as Surati Papdi in Indian stores in the US. Avarekai always evokes memories of my grandpa and also the erstwhile winters of Bangalore. If you are wondering why I chose the word erstwhile winters, it is a topic for another blog post :). Grandpa loved any dish made out of avarekaaLu! He would bring 2-3 kgs of avarekai from the market and leave it out in the open during the cool winter nights. This would make the avarekaaLu have more “sogadu”. To loosely translate the term into english, it means having a nice fragrance and an oily sheen to the beans. Then came the laborious process of shell the avarkaaLu. Next step was to separate the tender ones which would be used for making akki rotti. The big ones would be used to make saaru, upma etc.

Seeing as the love for avarekaaLu has been passed on through the next generations, I love using them in all kinds of dishes. Once such dish that I learnt from mother-in-law is the avarekai palya or usli. This pairs beautifully with plain akki rotti, puri or if you are little health freak like me, it goes well with chapatis too. I have to make do with the frozen variety here in the US though!


Ingredients: Serves 3-4

1 bag of frozen avarekaaLu or fresh beans from about 1.5 kgs of avarekaai

1 medium bunch methi leaves, chopped (optional but recommended)

2 teaspoons jeera powder

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 green chillies

1-2 cloves garlic

1 inch ginger

Onion 1 small chopped

Coconut 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1/2 cup chopped

Oil – 2-3 tablespoons

Salt to taste

Grind 1 tsp of jeera, 1 tsp mustard garlic, ginger, green chilli, coconut and cilantro to a fine paste with little water.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add mustard and jeera seeds and wait till the mustard splutters. Next add onion and saute.  Add the paste and saute for a minute. Add methi leaves and saute. Next add avarkaaLu, salt and little water if needed. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Serve with plain akki rotti, puri or chapati.

Beans, Methi and Besan Palya

String Beans happens to be one of my favorite veggies and there are so many things one can do with it. String beans are quite ubiquitous in Indian cooking and can be added to anything from Sambar, Pulao, Kurmas, Upma to simple palya or stir fry. One of my favorite ways to eat it is the simple palya with anna (rice) and saaru(rasam). That for me is comfort food! This recipe is a slight variation and tastes good with roti. This one’s from my mom’s repertoire of improvisations!

Ingredients : Serves 2-3

1 pound or half kilo of string beans

1 cup of chopped methi leaves

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

2 pinches of hing

A pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 tablespoons of besan or chickpeas flour

2 tablespoons of oil

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon lime juice

Chop the beans finely, steam it and keep aside. In a pan heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, once it splutters, add turmeric, chilli powder, hing and besan. Fry this for a minute on low flame. Add the methi leaves and fry for 1-2 minutes. Now add the steamed beans and salt and mix well. Fry this for another minute. Add the lime juice and mix well. Enjoy this with roti or chapathi.

Tangy Badnekaayi Palya/ Baingan Curry/ Kathrikayi PuliSheth Kariyumbh

If the last part of the blog title was a mouthful, thats what the dish is called among Iyengars!

This is one recipe I learnt from my mom’s sister. This recipes uses very simple everyday ingredients. The usual Rasam powder and tamarind that almost all south Indian house holds have stocked up in the pantry is all you need for this recipe. No roasting, no blending, no high calorie peanuts or coconut!

Ingredients: Serves 4
4 long purple or green Baingan ( Indian egg-plant)
2 small potatoes ( optional)
1 tsp rasam powder
A pinch of hing, turmeric powder
1 tsp tamarind paste
Curry leaves 5-6
Mustard seeds and 2 tbsp oil for seasoning
Cut the baingan and potatoes into 1 inch long inches about 1/4 inch thick. Remember to soak the baingan in a bowl of water as you cut them, to prevent them from turning brown.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Once it is hot, add and let the mustard seeds splutter. Then add the curry leaves, a pinch of hing and turmeric powder. Add the cut vegetables and let them cook till the skin of the baingan is soft and translucent brown.
Then add 1 tsp rasam powder, 1 tsp tamarind paste and salt to taste. Allow these ingredients to blend well with the cooked vegetables for about 5 minutes.
Serve with fresh hot roti. Also tastes great if you want to eat it with rice, remember to add that spoon of aromatic peanut oil when eating with rice though!