Broad Beans in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

Broad bean or fava bean is a spring vegetable in India. It is full of nutrition and mainly used to make curries though fried broad beans also taste great. Broad beans look long, flat almost like lima beans.

Spicy broad bean dishes work with roti or chapati. However, Bengalis are fond of bhat (rice) and bhabona (thoughts) and rice will be a better accompaniment for them. In this article, I will talk about my favourite broad bean delicacies.

Broad Beans in Bengali & Indian Cooking

Uses of Broad Beans in Bengali & Indian Cooking

I won’t say all broad bean curries are a favourite with the Bongs but definitely they love their own simer chochari. This is a spring special in Bengal.

The dish is prepared with broad beans along with other seasonal vegetables. The mildly tasty gravy is packed with nutrition and works with rice on any day, weekday or weekend.

Posto diye shimer chochori is another great Bengali delicacy. Young, fresh broad beans are sautéed and then cooked with poppy-mustard paste and turmeric powder.

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A few green chillies are used for decoration as well as for those who prefer a bit of hotness. You can add onion slices and chopped garlic but the recipe will offer great taste even without them.

You can try it with roti but I always love to relish it with boiled rice. A bowl of dal completes the meal for me.

Recently I have cooked a broad bean dish and named it simer basanti. It is the same as beginning basanti or begum bahar, with the only difference that broad beans take the centre stage instead of egg plants.

A thick paste of poppy seeds, mustard seeds and whisked curd adds spiciness and texture whereas cashew nuts balance the sourness and make it mildly sweet.

This rich broad bean delicacy is flavoured with the familiar aromatic trio – cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. It is a marvel for even the most seasoned taste buds, especially when relished with paratha.

Shim, Spring Onion and Aloo Bhaja is liked by many Bongs.

Let us now peep through South Indian kitchens and see what they can cook with broad beans. In South India, this green vegetable is known as avarakkai. Broad beans, stir fry and sambar are very popular across the Southern states of India.

Broad beans masala is an easy-to-make, spicy and healthy side dish for roti or chapati. It will take only a few minutes to cook. You can serve it with rice as well.

This dish has a non-veg version which is cooked with minced chicken to make things spicier and more delicious. Both veg and non-veg variations make a perfect accompaniment with rasam or sambar.

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Hot steamed rice will also be a nice staple food to try with it. The dish as an accompaniment with rice, roti or rasam makes a quick, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner.

Chikkudukaya Vepudu is another broad bean special. This dish is simple yet flavoured with onion, garlic and ginger lazily sautéed with simple masala and chopped tomatoes.

Avarakkai poriyal is another broad bean curry. It is a special delicacy from Tamilnadu. Broad beans are called Avarakkai poriyal in Tamil.

They are stir fried with peanuts. Surprisingly, grated coconut is missing in the fries. Broad beans and peanuts pair well with rice and roti.

What is the Best Way to Cook Broad Beans?

Though broad beans can be used to make both fries and curry, I prefer the latter.

Broad beans soaking the flavours of spices taste much better than the fried version.

What is the Fastest Way to Peel Broad Beans?

Young, fresh beans need not be peeled. If it comes to dried broad beans, soak them in hot water for 30-60 minutes.

Drain water and rinse beans properly. Squeeze each bean with your thumb and forefinger.

How Do You Clean a Broad Bean?

Remove the outer pod and collect the beans. Wash them under running water.

You can also soak them in normal water and after 30-60 minutes, drain out the water and keep them in a bowl.

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How Do You Soften Broad Bean Skin?

Boil them in water until tender. It may take up a maximum of 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beans.

Make sure they are properly boiled but don’t get mushy. Test the beans every 10 minutes to check their status.

What is the Fastest Way to Peel Broad Beans?

Peeling the second skin of broad beans is really painful. But there is a way to do it faster.

First, skin the outer shell and collect the beans in a tray. Put the trip in a freezer for 30 minutes.

When required, take the tray out and let them thaw for 10 minutes. After that, it will get a lot easier to peel the skin.

Questions & Answers:

How Does Broad Bean Taste?

Young, small, fresh Broad beans taste mildly nutty, sweet and buttery with an earthy flavour.

Do You Peel Broad Beans Before Cooking?

Not necessary. Make sure to cut broad beans in the spring- like protrusion on both sides.

What Can You Eat with Broad Bean?

Both rice and roti work well with broad beans, fries and curries.

Can You Eat the Skin on Broad Beans?

Sure, you can eat the broad beans with skin but only if they are fresh and young.

How Long Should You Cook Broad Beans?

Broad beans should not be boiled for more than 10 minutes.

What is Broad Bean Called in Different Languages?

Broad beans are also known as Avarai, Avarakkai, Sem, Sheem, and Val Papdi in different Indian languages.

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