This dish is a throwback to my childhood when my parents lived in a high rise apartment and occasionally Mrs. Kapoor who live two levels above us baby sat me to give my mother a break or let her run some errands without me. Apart from being our neighbor, she was one of the teachers in my school and despite not having any children of her own she was very good with children. I loved the afternoons with her, as she always had fun and instructional activities for me to spend my time with and often made this simple dish, which she served with the vegetable of the day for the mid-day meal. My mother was quite impressed at the fact that I finished this with satisfaction, despite the amount of unfamiliar vegetables in the dish. I bothered my mother so much recently about this dish that she seemed to have forgotten about, that she came up with this recipe which actually works pretty well.
As I have played with the recipe, I realize that the dominating texture in this dish is the soft and soothing texture of the white cannelloni beans that work very well with the sweet and deep vegetables in the recipe. The vegetables are naturally sweet and work very well with the gentle slightly sour seasoning used in the dish. If you can use the amchur or the dried mango powder you will love the nuance in the tastes, and if not the lime juice works just fine. It is amazing how, I can get my children not to notice that I put parsnips into this dish, something that they are not otherwise very fond of. The nuanced flavor in this dish comes from the fact that I have layered the spices, first in the base and then by finishing the dish with tempering it, a technique that I talk about here.
A naturally vegan recipe, it works fine in its original form however, if like me you think everything tastes better with an egg on it, by all means go ahead and top it with an egg. On this winter’s day we enjoyed this with some couscous.
A healthy and hearty dish, that uses a chockful of winter vegetables.
- 3/4 cup of dried white beans soaked for 2 hours
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium sized red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium sized golden beet, peeled and diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup diced or canned tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup finely chopped cabbage
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk (optional, but helps stabilize the gravy)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 dried red chilies
- 11/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 lime, halved (about 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice)
- Chopped cilantro to garnish
- Place the beans, water, onion, ginger, carrot, parsnip and beet in a large pot and bring to a simmer.
- Add in the tomatoes, salt, red cayenne pepper and cover and let the mixture cook on medium to low heat for 2 hours. By this time, the vegetables should be tender and the beans should be very soft (they should break lightly white stirring).Add in the bay leaves.
- Add in the cabbage and the coconut milk and stir gently, the mixture should have a soupy consistency sort of like a chunky soup rather than a thick stew, so you can adjust the water accordingly, also check for salt at this point.
- Heat the oil and add in the chilies and whole cumin seeds.Cook for about 20 seconds and let the seeds sizzle and the chilies darken.
- Add the shallots and cook until they soften and begin to turn pale golden. Pour the seasoned oil over the stew.
- Cut the lime and squeeze in the juice and garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
If you are using the amchoor as suggested in the narrative, you can eliminate the lime. This can be modified with any vegetable of your choice.