Left to right:
Dried Indian/Hyacinth/Lablab Beans (Val) & Snake Gourd (Padval)
This preparation is a combination of two rather uncommon ingredients. What I mean by 'uncommon' is that I have seen them, especially the dried Val/Hyacinth/Lablab beans, being cooked only in a few Indian households. More specifically, in families from some regions - particularly the coastal reagions - of Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Karnataka, like at my in-laws' place, they prefer the fresh, shelled Hyacinth beans (called Avrekai). Check out this post by Lavannya for a photograph as well as a recipe with them in it. Our resident gardener, LG aka Inji Pennu grows these beans (like pretty much everything!) in her garden. Here is where you can find out what the flowers and the fresh beans look like.
As for snake gourd, I know, that it is quite common in South India. Many of our fellow bloggers from the southern states of India have blogged about it. However, I am yet to come across a recipe from North India with snake gourd. Please let me know, if you know about any. If you want to see the pretty flower which later turns into a not-exactly-pretty snake gourd, check out this post by LG.
In my opinion, it is the unusual appearance and/or the slightly unpleasant smell that makes people cringe their noses at the mention of Padval or snake gourd. However, I have seen that those very people are happy to eat it when paired with soaked, skinned Val beans or Dalimbya, as we call them in Maharashtra. By the way, one could also use gherkins (Tondli in Marathi) instead of snake gourd in this recipe, which goes like this.
Recipe for Padval Dalimbya
1 cup/approx. 200 grams dried Val beans (about 2 cups, when soaked & skinned)
approx. 200 grams snake gourd (packed two cups, when diced/sliced)
1/2 tbsp jaggery
1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt to taste
approx. 3/4 cup of water
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida powder
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
chopped coriander leaves or shredded coconut for garnishing
1. Soak the dried Val beans in water for at least five hours or preferably overnight. Skin them on the following day. If they are well-soaked, it is quite easy to skin them. You have to hold one bean and press it with your fingers. The bean inside the skin just pops out. (It's a lot of fun to do that, actually. Perfect activity for when watching a movie on TV! :))
2. Cut the snake gourd vertically in half. Scoop out the seeds, if there are any. Now cut the halves diagonally in slices. Like in the next picture. (Alternatively, just dice the snake gourd after scooping out the seeds. I slice it like this only because I like it. :))
Left to right: soaked & skinned Val beans, sliced snake gourd
3. Heat oil in a pan. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the asafoetida powder.
4. Now add the skinned Val beans, turmeric powder and ¼ cup water.
5. Stir once, cover and cook on medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes.
6. Then add the diced/sliced snake gourd, salt and another ¼ cup of water.
7. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat.
8. Once both - the beans as well as the gourd - are cooked well, add the rest of the ingredients and some more water (if necessary).
9. Turn the heat off after about two minutes.
Garnish with coriander or coconut, and serve warm with chapatis or with rice & dal.
Padval Dalimbya garnished with coriander leaves and baby corn
The trickiest part in making this dish is cooking the beans and the gourd without overcooking them. Because once overcooked, both tend to fall apart * badly *, and the dish ends up as one 'un-pretty' mush. I, after having cooked it umpteen times, still manage to make a mess of it. Yesterday, when I got it right (after many days!), I knew I had to blog about it. :)Snake gourd, Beans, Bhaji, Curry