Vegetables and fruits are increasingly becoming a vital part of our diet, with many people incorporating them into their recipes, whereas some include them as a side dish during their main meals. In the West, salads are considered to be a popular meal for lunch as well as a side order during dinner. In South-Asia, however, vegetarian dishes have been an integral part of their cooking for generations. In India, most of the population rely solely on vegetarian cooking, with various curries concocted from the plethora of vegetables available. However, in Pakistan, meat is considered to be an essential component of every meal, be it lunch or dinner. Hence, vegetables are usually either cooked with the meat as part of a curry or sauteed in spices and served on its own. Either way, vegetables are served on the table, each time with a different taste. Spices and herbs are used to bring out their flavors in various different ways. In fact, I was once told a story about a wedding in India, where fifty different vegetarian dishes were served. Hats off to the chefs who turn the simplest of vegetables into a culinary delight.
For the past few years, I have tried to limit my intake of carbohydrates during my meals, hence the concentration is more on various meats/seafood and vegetables. Our dinner now consists mostly of salads and meat or seafood and/or soup. Working with vegetables can be easy as well as daunting. Sometimes it becomes an uphill task to figure out different ways to either serve or cook the vegetables in order to avoid our palate from being bored. Hence, I try to emulate the way vegetables are cooked in various regions across the world to bring something different to the table every-day. Since, I love spicy food, this recipe uses various spices to bring out the flavors of the potatoes and long green beans accentuated by the use of stewed tomatoes. As the dish is left to simmer on the stove, a beautiful aroma lingers in the kitchen.
- 4 potatoes
- 500g long green beans
- 1 onion
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 3-4 green chillies
- Handful coriander
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the diced onion. Saute stirring frequently
- While the onion is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Cut the green beans into 2 inch long pieces and roughly chop the potatoes into cubes
- As the onions turn light brown, add in the minced garlic, ginger, cumin seeds and turmeric. Saute till fragrant, about 3-4 minutes
- Add the potatoes and green beans. Sprinkle the remaining spices and stir till the potatoes are covered with spice mixture. Add a little bit of water and cook for a further 5 minutes
- Lower the heat and add the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Stir well and cover
- Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring after every ten minutes
- Once the potatoes become soft and the tomatoes have been stewed to a rough paste and the water has dried up, switch off the heat
- Add the chopped green chillies and coriander and cover. Let the steam infuse the flavors of the chilies and coriander
- Garnish with more coriander and serve hot
Comfort food for me is this recipe served with a warm bowl of stewed lentils. To make this simple dish grand, some people add cream or yoghurt. But somehow, I prefer it as it. The spice blend is powerful enough to enhance the flavors of this dish without any additives. Serve it with rice or flat-bread, it is delicious way to serve simple vegetables.