Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Ton of Protein # 5 - Matki Farasbee Bhaji (Green beans cooked with Moath sprouts)


Matki Farasbee Bhaji

Etymology, the origin of words, has always fascinated me. Especially the words brought into Indian languages by European traders and colonial powers. Many of them are so well incorporated in the local languages that it is often hard to believe that they were 'foreign' once upon a time.

For example, the Marathi word for soap. A soap is called 'saaban' in Marathi. Mind you, the 'n' is not pronounced like 'n' in English, but is a distinct nasal sound written phonetically as 'tn'. (Click here for the audio key for 'tn'.) The point is that this word which has this distinct Marathi sound is not even Marathi. It is derived from the Portuguese word 'sabão'. No wonder, because the Portuguese ruled much of the coastal region in Maharashtra before the Britishers arrived. Moreover, there was no concept of 'soap' in the Indian culture before the European traders arrived. The toiletries used by us before that were totally different. (And maybe healthier too, because they were Ayurvedic??)

'Farasbee', the Marathi word for green beans is another such example. It comes from 'French beans' in English. Now, French beans is just a way of preparing green beans and not a vegetable in itself. Also, these beans are not indigenous to India. Maybe the 'natives' (who were perhaps working as cooks for the Gora Sahib) heard only this term whenever they saw these 'new' beans. And when they tried to say it, their Marathi tongues forced them to say a word which fitted better in the pronunciation pattern. So, French beans became Farasbee. And if the pronunciation could be changed to become more 'local sounding', then cooking the vegetable to suit the local palate could have been no big issue. Let the Sahib have his bland French beans. What we will serve on our brass thalis is 'Farasbee chi Bhaji'. :)

What I have got for you today is a version made with Matki/Moath sprouts. High in protein and a perfect marriage of local beans with 'phoren' ones.


Left to right: whole and chopped green beans, sprouted Matki

Recipe for Matki Farasbee Bhaji


2 cups chopped Green beans (approx. ¼ kg. will yield 2 cups)
1½ cup sprouted Matki/Moath
a pinch turmeric powder
1 tbsp Goda Masala (or any other not-too-overpowering-the-taste Masala)
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2-3 tbsp crushed jaggery or Muscovado sugar
3 tbsp fresh/frozen grated coconut (optional)
salt to taste
½ - ¾ cup hot water
chopped coriander leaves (optional)

1 tsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
a pinch asafoetida


Clockwise from left: chopped green beans, sprouted Matki, grated coconut


1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add the asafoetida.
2. Add the chopped beans, sprouts and turmeric powder. Sprinkle some water on them. Cover with a lid and steam them till they are cooked yet have a slight crunch.
3. Now add the hot water and all the other ingredients. Let the Bhaji simmer very gently for 3-4 minutes.
4. Garnish with some more chopped coriander leaves or grated coconut.
5. Serve warm with phulkas/rotis/Bhakri.

Easy? Very.
Tasty? Very very!!

Jihva for ingredients


BDSN said...

Wow this recipe is indeed a very simple one that is perfect for phulkas..I just love it...I will give a try when i buy matki next time...Thanks for sharing...

archana said...

Thank you for the recipe,your green onion flower looks good

Anonymous said...

vaishali, I love Matki. (I haven't tried it with beans though). will try it soon.

Vineela said...

HI Vaishali,
Nice recipe and photos.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vaishali,
Nice recipe.It so happens that I have all the ingredients on hand. Will try ur recipe immediately.
Do share more matki recipes... This is a new grain to me. I bought a pack to try out Nupur's 'misal'.
One more request-do post a few recipes that use 'Goda masala' coz I made a batch to try out 'paatal bhaaji' from this site.

Enjoyed ur write up on etymology.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vaishali,

I just tried moth beans for the first time the other night - put some in a mixed dal (at least pretty sure it's the same bean). Your recipe looks great! I'll try sprouting some for it. I also enjoyed your etymology discussion - my father taught me a great love of words :)

Best wishes from New England.

Shammi said...

Vaishali, I'm definitely going to have to invite myself over for lunch :) I've got a bag of matki beans that's been with me for months... time I opened it for this recipe!

Nandan said...

Etymology of farasbee is interesting. The dish itself Appears pretty easy to prepare (of course, unless I try it out :).) I am not much of a fan of farasbee, but with matki I guess it should be interesting combination.

Vaishali said...

BDSN, it really is very easy. I make it often as a side dish when I am entertaining, because there is usually a lot to prepare and making all time-consuming dishes is not a good idea.

Thanks, Archana. I knew you'd appreciate the garnish, if you saw this post.

Shilpa, do let me know if you try it out.

Thanks, Vineela Sweetie. You never fail to say that. :) :)

Tisha, thank you so much for stopping by. Matki is a very tasty and versatile bean. Sure I'll try and post more recipes with Matki as well as Goda Masala. Keep coming!

Linda, sprouting can be very rewarding, I feel. I am always very proud when those babies start growing tiny horns. :) And yes, etymology is always so interesting. It makes you think that globalisation isn't really a new phenomenon after all.

Comer over, Shammi. There is already a plate for you on the table. :)

Nandan, my parents, too, aren't very fond of green beans. But believe me, Matki transforms the scene completely. Do try it out. In case you don't like it, send it over to me. :)

Krithika said...

This is an excellent recipe. A must try. Thanks for sharing this.

Sumitha said...

Hey Vaishali!I tried cooking rice in the microwave yesterday.It turned out fine.You were my inspiration for it otherwise I am always very reluctant to cook rice in the microwave.
Hey and by the way are you hooked to the World Cup?I bet you are!

Luv2cook said...


Great recipe. Never heard of combining sprouted beans with green beans. Will definitely try this one!

Ashwini said...

I am interested in etymology too so I loved your write up...I had no idea thats where the pronunciation came from and now that I think of it phonetically "farasbee" sounds a bit western on the tongue doesnt it? Other egs - batata (which is the original name in Portugese) and tomato (didnt change either)
Loved the combination of beans and sprouts...I will def give this a try

Nabeela said...

I looove any recipe with beans...and yours looks very very tasty. This one is going in my recipe book too :)

Anonymous said...

Let the Sahib have his bland French beans


Good recipe.

Unknown said...


Neelu said...

I love lal the usals n the combo of matk in beans is very new ot me. Did u make that often in india ? I havent tried mixing beans wiht sprouts , will try that now. As for Onion tomato paste, I havent tried freezint it any time. I Usualy make enough for 8 days especial yduring holiday season because I dont like ot waste time to cut n then fry onions. This paste is already fried (in very little oil ofcourse coz onions leave a lot of water)So you dont waste time in cutting and frying freshly cut onion + It adds thickness to the curry. If you prefer you can add other stuff while grinding as well like chillie powder, jeera powder, garam masal, roasted sesame seeds, roasted dry coconut etc, but I prefer to keep the basic because U have options later while making veg what powders you want to add. Try It n I bet u will do htis whole life, is sooo much time saving, Ajji kadun idea ghetli ahae :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Vaishali. Very healthy recipe, havent tried this combo earlier. Must try it.

Vaishali said...

Do try it out, Krithika. I'm sure you'll like it.

Sumitha, I am so happy that you could cook rice successfully in the MW oven. And yeah, our life is revolving around World Cup at the moment.

L2C, it is a great combo. Make this and you'll have people licking their plates.

Ashwini, oh yes, 'batata'. And then you also have 'Nataal' for Xmas. It sure is interesting.

Nabeela, with so many bloggers around, I'm sure you have a big book for recipes to be tried out. Mine is overflowing. :)

LG, *grin*

Pushpa, thankoo.

Neelu, yes, I used to make this one in India too. It's a lovely combo.
Thank you sooooooooooo much for that 'onion-tomato' paste tip. Your Ajji must be gr8 at cooking.

Thank you, Sailu. It's great for the run-up to your JFI event, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

are those empty beerglasses that you have used in your photos? I best the world cup is on full gas at your place :-)

Vaishali said...

Oh yeah, World Cup it is at the moment at my place. And no, those glasses have nothing to do with beer! We are a family of chaste people, TRA. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. Beans with matki is a neat idea. Also, there's a more "Marathi" name for those beans. They're called ShraavaN GhevDa.


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