Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tel Sheem -- Hyacinth Beans from Soma

I was seriously waiting for something to get my blogging mojo back.

August had been surreal with a vacation to beautiful Banff and Jasper National parks(more on that later), short trips around the home state, a water park vacation to Great Wolf Lodge specifically for the kids, and lots of tea time with my parents while watching "Mahanayak" -- the Bengali serial people love to hate (yeah, yeah, I know!). I was getting used to vacations and summer.

Since my parents are visiting, the kitchen had also morphed largely into my Ma's domain and I rarely bothered to see how and why things were getting done. I even managed to watch a movie at the theaters with the husband-man, an event worth remembering simply because it is so rare in its occurrence.

You must understand that it is very easy to slip into a life of leisure, if you are already lazy like me. I could totally fit into the society of Roman Nobles in ancient Rome. It is very natural that I drifted.

But there was some magic that happened over the weekend, which triggered me back into the kitchen and back to the blog again. The magic would have never happened, if I did not have a blog in the first place. So the magic had a dependency on the blog and on you. Ok, so without going into the chicken and egg scenario, let me tell you what happened.

A blogger friend Soma, who blogs at Spices and Pisces and does a trillion other things, sent me a box of sheem and ucche, that is Hyacinth beans and bitter gourd for you, grown in her own garden. Soma has a very bright shade of green thumb and grows gorgeous vegetables. Her community garden pictures on Facebook, boasting of curvaceous laus(bottlegourd) and glistening sheem(flat beans) would make you love vegetables to the point of making you a vegetarian. She pours tons of love into her garden and the beautiful person that she is, she shared the love by sending me a box of her home-grown vegetables, by priority mail.

Once we got over the surprise part of seeing fresh vegetables from a box delivered by the USPS lady, the family spent next several minutes ogling at the vegetables. Little Sis was thrilled by the uniqueness of the whole act. "Mommy's friend sent her vegetables from Maryland," she told my Ma.

Then a discussion ensued as to what to cook with the sheem. Here, I must tell you, tender aka kochi sheem is not a given where I live. I don't even get sheem at the Indian grocery store and substitute all sheem dishes with sugar snap peas. My Ma, who is used to an abundance of sheem where she lives, proposed sheem bhaate or shorshe diye sheem or sheem er jhol. I didn't want to add shorshe(mustard) to this tender sheem as I feel the mustard sauce tends to overpower the natural taste of the vegetable.

The husband-man then proposed Tel-Sheem, without the mustard and with almost zero spices. Something that would be just fitting for a vegetable so fresh, tender, and grown with love.

So that is what I did

Tel Sheem

Lope off the tip of each Hyacinth bean(sheem) and then pull off the stringy part from the edges

Heat Mustard oil in a kadhai.

Now temper the oil with 1/4th tsp of Nigella seeds and 3 slit green chili.

Add the sheem to the kadhai and saute for a few minutes until each sheem glistens with oil.

Make a wet paste with
1/4 tsp of turmeric Powder
1 tsp of fresh ginger paste
1/2 tsp of red chili powder
1 tbsp of yogurt

Lower the heat and add add this to the veggies in the kadhai. Saute at low heat for few minutes.

Add a 1/2 cup of water, 3 more green chili slit through, salt to taste and let the gravy simmer to a boil. Cover the kadhai with a lid and check occasionally if sheem is cooked.

Once the vegetable is cooked and the oil has surfaced, the dish is done. Now for you to enjoy it with some steaming white rice.

This tasted so so good that I cannot thank Soma enough

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  1. My sheems are blessed now. So glad you liked them. I craved sheem for the last several years and then put my foot down last year and started growing them. It's one of my favorite vegetables.

  2. We too cook sheem in a similar manner in Assamese Cuisine. Cut the shem in small pieces, then toss some onions in mustard oil before adding the sheem into it with salt and turmeric powder only. Stir for sometime and your tasty sheem bhaja is ready. I loved your version and definately gonna try it next time.

  3. I got my sheem from my husband's family in Dhaka, but now laws are stricter. Our contractor did our seem in, and I miss that beautiful vine. Do you know any siurce in the USA?

  4. I make slight variation of the dish, no chilli powder, no yogurt, when the sheem starts getting tender, add a generous amount of cilantro and gree chilli paste, cover the pan and switch off the heat.A drizzle of mustard oil later and it tastes heavenly !

  5. Instead of ginger, red chillies and yogurt I add a paste of lots of coriander leaves, 2 green chillies and 2 cloves of garlic paste. It tastes very nice. Will try this recipe for sure.


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