Whoever said that veggies are boring and time consuming deserves a rap across the pork knuckles! I’m in total awe of the power of veg and constantly surprised by the depths to which I can go in exploring different ways to express the beauty of these gorgeous ground dwellers. In India, and particularly the Ayurvedic realm; veggies are prized and highly emphasised, not to mention a handy frugal option with high levels of nourishment. Today I’m sharing a special dish I discovered when I was studying in Kerala. You can read more about my Indian cooking adventures here or in my recipe book Eat Right for Your Shape. I’m especially proud of Ayurvedic cuisine for its wholesome and innovative approach to preparing quite elaborate meals out of simplistic veg. This glorious green bean subji is a prime example.
Subji is an Indian term that literally means ‘vegetable dish’- and can be in connection with any vegetable in a variety of different cooking methods. Subji’s can be dry, wet, or in curry form. This spectacular subji is based on the humble green bean, but is impressively dressed up with a list of medicinal and flavourful Ayurvedic ingredients like cumin, ginger, mustard seeds, shredded coconut for texture and the freshness of coriander leaves. In minutes your regular bean is transformed into an exotic, aromatic vegetarian dish that’ll really blow your hair back and widen your eyes. Aside from providing a tasty greens dish to sit front and centre at your next dining table spread, your green bean subji will also offer a healing and pacifying service towards Vata and Pitta doshas.
For sensitive flighty Vatas who are typically aggravated by most varieties of beans, the green bean is a most welcomed friend; much gentler and easy to get along with. A Vata constitution is predominantly ‘air’, requiring a balance of fiery, warming, heavier lifestyle choices to maintain balance in mind, body and spirit. If you’re feeling overly stressed, my trusty subji will greet you with a gentle cuddle of warmth through mild heating spices like ginger that will go on to improve digestion. This dish will also tame the fiery Pitta people. Although typically strong, athletic, and robust; Pittas can suffer from the damaging effects of too much heat and a fast paced lifestyle which results in a cycle of stress, overeating and weight gain.
Green vegetables are a Pitta pal due to their cooling nature. Green veggies are also a great source of chlorophyll which will bring a refreshment of oxygen into a heated Pitta bloodstream; providing a boost in circulation. Enjoy this exotic veggie side dish alongside meat dishes, or as part of a collection of dishes within a broad vegetarian feast.
GREEN BEAN SUBJI
Note: Pittas should reduce the quantities of the spices, omit the coconut and use only 1 teaspoon of ghee
To balance kapha, omit the coconut
- 2 tablespoons ghee or extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1⁄2 onion, chopped
- 2.5 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) green beans, sliced
- filtered water, as needed (optional)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
Heat the ghee in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds, and cook until the mustard seeds have popped. Add the turmeric, churna masala and onion, and cook for 3–4 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
Stir through the ginger, garlic, coconut and coriander, then add the beans. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook until the beans are soft, adding a little filtered water if it gets too dry.
Season with salt and serve.