At least, if not in the bamboo basket, this post is! Full of beans!! This is a common variety grown in the hilly areas of Assam. It looks like the Lobia/Phaseolus vulgaris which is cultivated in most areas of India. There are so many plants that are endemic to this region and most do not come up on Google search. In my mother tongue the name of this plant literally translates to “carry” as in carry a load. The name must’ve been given because, instead of a spacious bamboo trellis, it’s happy enough on a bean pole and will bear generously without the luxury that’s usually reserved for the various kinds of Hyacinth beans.The blooms are a bright yellow. This is of the speckled seed variety as shown in the photo below. And the only ones that I’ve grown. As for the blooms of the creamy-coloured ones, the colour of the blooms could be different. With garden produce that have long associations one usually has an image or some images tucked away in some crevice of the mind. The sight of these beans remind me of mats in my parents’ backyard full of dry beans. Under a strong sun the beans would come apart with a little snap and a crackle thus making it easy to separate the “chaff from the grain”. And then they would be stored to be taken out at intervals, soaked overnight and cooked either on their own or with smoked meat or dried fish. These were never bought in the market then. Everyone grew them. But now they’re easily available, neatly packed in packets in the weight that you desire.Here’s a simplest bean dish I made. It was soaked overnight and then pressure-cooked with salt and turmeric powder. Then in a little oil I fried up some finely chopped onions, added ginger and garlic paste, two chopped green chillies, a quarter tsp of cumin powder, a quarter tsp of coriander powder, chopped tomatoes, then added the beans. For the garnish I used cilantro or as we say in India–coriander leaves.
Smoked meat, pork especially, enhances the taste of this dish. In that case the meat is fried with spices and then the pressure-cooked beans are added. In the case of dried fish, the fish pieces are lightly fried and added to the dal.
Whatever way this dish is prepared, it goes well with steaming hot rice, the staple food of our region. In our villages, when people come across each other, the most commonly used words are–Have you eaten (rice)? And answering that in the affirmative implies that all is well!