Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Bookmark Project: Tangy Curried Vaal

Well, well, well. I certainly learn something new every day. Usually in the first 15 minutes after I wake up, as I am sipping the first cup of tea and browsing through the latest RSS feeds.

I love all the beans in my pantry (and there are many), but the vaal (hyacinth beans) have a special place in my heart. Sprouted and peeled, they get cooked into two dishes that I have adored all my life. The problem is...the peeling! It is a little labor-intensive and needs a bit of planning, and this is why the poor vaal tend to languish in my pantry.


Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes posted a recipe recently that showed me a new way to cook the vaal- unsprouted (I can live with that) and unpeeled (hurray)! Bookmarked!

And that's how I could make vaal today on the spur of the moment for a weeknight meal. All I did was soak the vaal in the morning for tonight's dinner. I adapted Shilpa's recipe slightly to omit a few spices and make a basic version of this curry. I seem to be genetically programmed to cook goda jevan (food with a hint of sweetness) and that's how a small lump of jaggery ended up in there as well. I loved the way it contrasted with the tangy tamarind and slightly bitter vaal. A simple curry with complex flavors. And no, you can't taste the peel.

Tangy Curried Vaal


Adapted from Shilpa's delicious recipe

1. Soak 1 cup vaal for 8 hours or so, then rinse them and pressure cook them.

2. Soak 1 tablespoon or so of tamarind in a cup of hot water and extract the tamarind juice.

3. Roast the following together, then cool and grind into a fine powder. Add a tablespoon of cooked beans to the powder and grind again to make a thick paste.
1 heaped tsp. cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp. coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp. sesame seeds
1 heaped tsp. poppy seeds

4. In a saucepan, heat 2 tsp. oil. Temper the oil with mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida and a sprig of curry leaves.

5. Add 1 small minced onion and fry it for a few minutes. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to taste.

6. Stir in the cooked beans, spice/bean paste, tamarind juice and a small lump of jaggery. Add water as need to thin down the curry. Simmer for 10 minutes. Done!

I served the tasty curry with some freshly steamed rice and a simple subzi of eggplant and potato for a truly sumptuous weeknight meal.

This post goes to the bean-lovin' event, My Legume Love Affair. The 14th edition is being hosted at the home of this event, The Well-Seasoned Cook.

August has started and I find myself in a busy phase, work-wise. But I fully intend to continue cooking the bookmarks and featuring the successes in short posts like this one. See you soon!


  1. Vaal is one of my favourite legumes, but am lazy and time deprived to peel them. Thanks for this recipe I can enjoy it without the hard work! Your serving pot makes the dish look even appealing.

  2. I have never seen hyacinth beans, but now I'm intrigued. Are they available in the US, or did you get them in India?

  3. I'm going to bookmark your whole blog :D

    Like Julia Powell- go through all your recipes!

  4. Your blog is to be bookmarked.

    I'm going to do a julia powell of a Julia child in you ;)

  5. I've heard of hyacinth beans through other blogs, but didn't realize they are slightly bitter. Now, I am even more intrigued. Are they bitter b/c that is their nature, or only if you don't peel them?

    Thank you, Nupur, for this great contribution to MLLA.

  6. Sprouting. Peeling. 2 reasons why I never make vaal.
    No sprouting. no peeling. Exactly why I am going to make this. The vaal in my pantry has been sitting there undisturbed for...i'd rather not say it!!

  7. I love vaal too... this seems great. I shall try it out when S is back in town.

    Here are a few recipes you might like:

    No peeling involved here :)

  8. Namita- The serving pot is a cute little thing I got from India, and I was trying to capture its shape as well as its contents, in vain :D

    Susan from Food Blogga- You do get them quite easily in the US, in stores that sell Indian groceries. They are labeled "Val" or "Surti Val". These are tasty beans, I definitely recommend trying them if you get a chance.

    A_and_N- LOL good luck with that! Meanwhile, I have to live to be 130 to cook through my bookmarks.

    Susan- It is just their nature that hyacinth beans have this pleasant, slight bitterness (the way some greens are bitter). I must say that sprouting and peeling them does reduce some of that, but both the peeled and unpeeled forms are very tasty in their own ways.

    aquadaze- I know exactly what you mean, sometimes beans can lie forgotten for years :)

    Raaga- Ooh, I missed all those recipes! They all look delicious, I'll have to try them out one by one.

    Priti- Thanks.

  9. Cool..Love your version :), I have to try this soon. Btw..when I first started cooking with these beans, I didn't know they had to be peeled. But when I came to know, I had no interest to do that as we were already used to the un-peeled version :) (or I am just too lazy) :)).

  10. Beautiful images! Sounds like a fantastic dish. I have lots of beans on hand at all times, but have not tried these.

  11. I don't think I have ever tried these beans. The recipe does look yummy, and I'll be sure to pick up a packet of them on my next trip to the Indian store.
    By the way, I love this new bookmark series!

  12. Wow!! I've never cooked with these. This looks wholesome and yummy - a definite bookmark for me ;-)

  13. I like the fact that it is tangy... I did not eat vaal coz of the bitter taste.. but more coz of the peeling.. this one sounds the one for me!

  14. That looks absolutely would be great on it's own too..yumm..I also dislike laborious recipes..not that i do not make them..but it has to be pretty darn special for me to do anything extra!


  15. I used to love vaal all those years back when Mom used to make it - has become a distant memory after I left Mumbai!

    Thanks for bringing back those memories, I must look for them....and though I am not a "goad jevan person" but I must admit that I can't imagine vaal without the jaggery!

  16. oh goody - another bean to try! :D I agree - peeling gets old (I did it the first couple of times I cooked dried chickpeas, but then I decided they were just fine with the peels), so a recipe like this is perfect for me! I don't know how My Love Affair with Legumes escapes my notice before - I'm looking forward to exploring past entries.

  17. I don't think I've ever eaten or cooked with hyacinth beans.
    I guess I should use up the 10+ types of dals/beans in my pantry first before I even think of buying another kind!
    I love the vessel you've served the dish in. :)

  18. Shilpa- Someday, when you have a little time, you must try the sprouted-and-peeled version of these beans, they taste wonderful that way too!

    Lisa- There's always a new bean to try no matter how many we keep on hand, right??

    Kamini- I'm glad you are enjoying this series- I'm really enjoying the hunt for great recipes in my bookmarks folder.
    Do find some vaal and give them a try- it is a delicious bean.

    Priya- They are very tasty indeed- worth bookmarking, buying and cooking ;)

    Manasi- Yes- then this recipe is for you!

    Rajitha- I won't go so far as to say I dislike laborious dishes, but I do like having different ways of preparing an ingredient, one of which needs very little time.

    Miri- Yes, vaal and jaggery do go together so well, the sweetness playing off the bitterness.

    Cathy- Peeling chickpeas must have been sheer torture!!! This bean is worth seeking out :)

    TBC- I know what you mean about endless varieties of dals. I rotate them, buying different ones each time.
    The vessel was from my India trip- stolen from my mom's stash ;)

  19. Nupur, playing catch-up here I quickly skimmed this post and thought it said 'tangy curried veal'!!! I had to double check where I was ;)

    Thanks for highlighting Shilpa's recipe for no-peel val dal -- I love the taste but not the labor... lazy I know. I will have to try both versions now :)

  20. Heh! For a minute there I thought this was Tangy Curried Veal -- and I was going to worry what the world was coming to if Nupur was taking up meat. Since it's vaal, it's a recipe i can embrace -- and will.

    Good to see you Sunday!

  21. Linda- LOL vaal it is, much better than veal eh ;) ??
    I have seen vaal dal (split) on your blog but have never tried that myself, these are with the whole vaal beans. And they are very tasty- worth a try :)

    Becky- Trust me, vaal tastes much better than veal ever will :D
    And I highly recommend these "vaal" beans, Becky, they are very tasty!
    I'm so thrilled you could make it out on Sunday- and I hope you met the deadline!

  22. THis looks so yummy. Will try it out soon ( do not have a stock of the beans). Great pictures as always.

  23. Tried this out today - was absolutely yum!!! Going into my recipe book for repeats. Served it with a crisp arugula salad. I got a bit lazy and just tossed the onion and garlic in my vitamix and made a coarse paste as well and sauteed that. Then pureed whole fresh tomatoes (peel, seeds and all) and added that to the onion-garlic paste. Added some fresh torn basil in addition to the parsley, oregano and thyme. Delicious!!Made the house smell divine. Thanks Nupur and Julia! U guys are both awesome.

  24. Oops I think I posted the comment above in the wrong section. Meant it for the Provencal quiche. Sorry!

  25. I have been cooking with val beans for some time now, but I never knew that they were also called hyacinth beans, thank you for telling me this! I usually sprout val beans before cooking, but this looks like a very nice recipe and I will be trying it out.

  26. This looks so yum..thanks for the wonderful recipe..should try it.


The spammers are out in full force so I've had to turn word verification on! Thanks for leaving a comment- I read and respond to every single one.