I have a confession to make, my Tamil is legitimately awful. It is quite embarrassing really that I cannot speak or understand much of the language at all.
While I don’t find it very surprising cause we grew up speaking English at home, my father who never speaks Tamil at home and who has not once attempted to teach me the language was aghast when he found that I could barely understand let alone speak the language.
Why is this even relevant? Well unfortunately for me, I still look brown and my name most certainly gives it away, so whenever we do go out for Banana Leaf (rice served with a variety of dishes on a banana leaf – it is awesome!) at a South Indian restaurant and the waiters start speaking to me in Tamil, I sheepishly have to respond in English/Malay (if I understand) much to my embarrassment or get a slight smirk from them when I try and butcher the language by mispronouncing whatever it is I want to order. At least I give them something to laugh about, right?
This dish in particular is one that causes quite a lot of pain. While it is one of my favourite dishes, I struggle to pronounce poriyal and swear my tongue snaps in two whenever I try. But what it means though is stir fry and while most of the time you expect it to be accompanied with spices and grated coconut, this is not always strictly the case.
In fact behind our hospital was a stretch of hawker stalls and amongst them was one man who sold Indian food. I used to visit his stall at least once if not twice a week for lunch, and without fail every single time I would have the bean stir fry he made. Now that I am miles away, I have tried my level best to replicate his version of the dish. While not quite the same, I have ended up with something somewhat similar just not nearly as spicy.
Recipe (Serves two as a main, four as a side dish)
220grams beans diced
1 large carrot diced
1/2 white/red onion diced
1 tomato diced
1 green chilli halved
200gm tofu (Medium Firm/ Firm)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 stalk fresh curry leaves/ 6-7 pieces of dry curry leaves
- Fry mustard seeds and curry leaves in vegetable oil.
- Once mustard seeds start to splutter add onions.
- Once onions are translucent add the chopped tomato
- As tomatoes start to breakdown add cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and stir fry. You want to fry the spices for about a minute but be careful not to let it burn.
- Add 100ml of water so you get a bit of a paste.
- Add green chilli, beans and carrots and stir till covered with the paste.
- It will be quite dry at this point, so you want to add another 100ml of water to cook the beans and carrots in. Add salt to taste
- Cover for 5 minutes and let simmer. (I prefer my vegetables with a bit of bite, if you prefer them more cooked let simmer for about 10-12 minutes)
- Add tofu in and let simmer for another 4 minutes.
- Serve with white rice, roti or have it on its own.
While this dish is usually had as a side dish, given how much we love our beans and tofu in this household, we make it into a little more of a curry and like to add tofu to the mix. So on weeknights it makes a quick main meal served with rice. Though if you are not a tofu fan, have no fear – just omit the tofu and you can make it a little drier by letting the water evaporate by keeping it on the stove uncovered for a minute longer.
Do give it a try and let me know what you think.