Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beans Upkari (String Beans Stir-fry)

For some period of my life, I lived with my uncle Nammi mam and Lata aunty. They have a cook whom we fondly call "Namma",who cooks excellent Konkani meals. Anything she makes tastes delicious. She can infuse deliciousness into the simplest of dishes. One of the dishes she made is green beans upkari. The beans are chopped fine and cooked to a crisp finish. They look like bright green emeralds and taste great. Her dish calls for more oil. Being health conscious, mine has little oil and at times I also garnish it with freshly grated coconut. I absolutely love the taste of freshly grated coconut and find reasons to put it in my dishes :).This is a great side-dish for weeknight dinner.Here's the recipe:

Servings: 4


Fresh green beans( string beans) : 1 lb (450 grams). Chopped into 0.5 cms length pieces.
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp( can use 1/2 tbsp for even more healthier version.) ( Any cooking oil can be used, I prefer to cook in coconut/ olive oil).
Mustard seeds: 1/4tsp
Dried Red chillies: 2 nos
Freshly grated coconut: 1 tbsp ( optional)
Salt to taste


Heat a sauté pan/ wok on medium heat. Add oil and mustard seeds. 

Once they splutter, add the red chillies and the chopped green beans. Add salt. 

Reduce the flame, cover and cook until done, approximately 15 minutes, sautéing in between.

Note: If cooking in India, you can add 1/2 cup water while cooking. Vegetables in the US tend to have higher water content, hence additional water is not required while cooking. If in India( or you are in a rush),the above dish can be made in a pressure pan. After adding the water, let it come to a boil, now cover the cooker lid, let it cook until you get 2 whistles. Open the cooker lid only after the hissing stops completely.

Garnish with grated coconut( optional)

Serve hot with rice.

Cooking made easy:

The above dish can be made with several other vegetables like potatoes, Chinese potatoes, okra, long beans (alsande) to name a few.It is quick, easy to make and healthy.

Tip for healthy living:

In recent years, there was a huge uproar that coconut, coconut oil should be limited in your diet as it is a saturated fat and would increase the cholesterol in the body and clog your arteries. Many people either switched to "healthy" oils like canola or corn. I have always believed that the way our ancestors lived was a healthier way. They lived closer o nature, and had healthier eating habits. So I wondered could all our previous generations who cooked exclusively in coconut oil be all wrong? In fact, my mother exclusively eats food that has been cooked only in coconut oil . Any other oil upsets her stomach and makes her sick. We now understand that the whole"coconut oil is bad for you" was a myth propagated by the big companies who wanted to promote canola and corn oil industries. In fact canola and corn production is a big industry! Today, health proponents are strongly promoting the use of coconut oil and sing praises of the health benefits of coconut . People are even encouraged to eat dry coconut pulp as a snack! 

Coconut oil apparently has medium chain fatty acids that are healthy and whose breakdown helps the liver burn energy in an efficient manner.It also acts as an anti-oxidant in the body.


Food for thought:

What goes around, comes around.(unknown)