After the calorie piling with the sinful New Year foods, it is great to be back to some simple fare. What could be simpler than Broad beans or Sem ki phalli ki sabzi with roti or rice? Broad beans have many monikers as the broad bean. You may know them as fava bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean, English bean, horse bean, Windsor bean, pigeon bean and tic(k) bean. In North India, they are known as Sem ki phalli and in my hometown, they are known as Chikkudakaya.
Anyway, a bean with any name will still be a bean!! And these beans are meaty and flavorful enough to be served on the dining table. They are said to have a good dose of protein, fibre, potassium and energy-providing B vitamins. These beans are available only in the winter in India.There are different varieties of them; some thin and without beans in them, some shorter and full of beans, light or dark green. I think they look beautiful with their green sheen and kidney-shaped beans and comely curves. They are sold as whole green beans or even just the bean pods. They are meatier, wider and much tastier than ordinary green beans.
Broad beans are healthy and when you bite through their silky skin into their sweetly leguminous crunchy centre, you’ll realise their true worth. They’re best when they are fresh and tender or else they feel rubbery and tasteless.
Most people make Sem Aloo ki sabzi or broad beans curry as a side dish but for me, it is a very simple but nutritious main dish. I make it with potatoes which enhance their taste. They have an earthy flavour and a more prominent beany taste. The beans need to be stringed before chopping as they have hard fibrous strings.Sem beans are usually chopped into small pieces and cooked with potatoes with very few spices, but still taste delicious. But in Andhra, they are cooked whole, after blanching and then they are tempered.
Recipe for Sem Ki phalli or Broad beans
½ kg Sem or broad beans
4 small potatoes cubed
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 slit green chillies
Few curry leaves
½ Teaspoon red chilli powder
½ Teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Coriander to garnish
1. Wash the beans and string them before chopping.
Chop the Beans into small pieces. I used baby potatoes and I quartered them.
Add 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick frying pan or heavy-bottomed skillet add the cumin seeds and once they splutter add the green chillies and curry leaves.(yes curry leaves as I cannot get rid of my south Indian roots )
Add chopped beans, chopped potatoes sauté and cook on simmer for 20 minutes or until beans become tender but firm. Add the turmeric and chilli powder. Cover with a lid.
Keep stirring every few minutes. Add the salt when almost cooked. If required sprinkle a little water as the beans don’t cook easily.
I do not add any other spices as I like to retain the natural flavour and taste of the beans. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and your Sem ki sabzi or broad beans curry is ready to eat.
Serve it with paratha, roti or rice. I had my lunch with this tasty Sem Ki Phalli Ki Sabzi or Broad Beans Curry accompanied with a garden fresh mint chutney and roti washed down with a glass of masala buttermilk.