Food: three simple veggie stir frys
Today I am sharing with you three of my favorite "bhaji"s. A "bhaji" is a Bengali word meaning "fry" or "stir-fry". In this case its a simple stir-fry consisting of just one vegetable. A "bhaji" can be eaten with rice or bread[roti/paratha]. And if you are trying to forgo the carbs then just by itself. These "bhaji"s have a very simple recipe. But what is time consuming is the slicing of the vegetables - taking a large vegetable and then peeling and breaking it down to smaller pieces, and then chopping them up into juliennes.
The three vegetables I have here are also very common in Asia and not so popular in the west. Long beans come from the family of green beans. They do take a little bit longer to cook than green beans but has more flavor. Bottle gourd comes from the squash family and is similar to a zucchini. Green papayas are simply an unripe papaya. It is a great meat tenderizer. It is naturally sweet and also can be consumed raw.
Here are the vegetables before being chopped into pieces.
Personally I feel that green papaya takes more time to process. I usually chop the papaya into half and then take out the seeds with a spoon. There is a thin layer of skin that holds the seeds to the papaya and that also needs to be scraped down because it can add a bitter taste to the dish. Once you start scraping the seeds they will start jumping everywhere. So I either place the papaya over a bag or a bowl to make life easier.
This is what they should look like once you are done.
Next I peel the skin off and slice it up. The thickness is totally based on your preference. Going too thin takes me more time so I opt out for this.
I take a few of the slices and stack them together before turning them into juliennes.
The gourd is easier to cut because it is way softer inside. If the gourd is young then the seeds inside will be small and soft which will slice easily under the knife. If the gourd is matured then you might have to discard the seeds.
The skin of smaller sized gourds don't need peeling because they will cook easily along with the rest of the gourd. But I had mine in the fridge for too many days and it got dark spots on it. So I had to discard it.
Same chopping technique with the gourd.
When I cook beans I usually do a French cut on them. This fastens the cooking time and looks pretty. This is definitely time consuming since you cannot chop multiple beans at once. But it can be therapeutic :)
It is wise to do all the chopping and slicing before starting to cook. Once the chopping part is down, the cooking happens fast.
I place the vegetables directly into the pan with very little oil, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, slit chilies, and salt. I add the onions once the vegetables are cooked down about half way. And I finish it off with a sprinkle of sugar.
I cover the pan with a lid during the entire cooking process. This keeps the vegetables moist. If you notice that the bottom of the pan is drying up and the vegetables are sticking [most likely with the beans] then add a little bit of water....just a little though. Keeping the pan covered cooks the vegetables in their own liquid.
Adding the onions midway in the cooking process keeps the onion slices intact. By the time the vegetables are done the onions hit the right spot where they are soft and sweet. And this adds more to the flavor I feel. And the little sprinkle of sugar makes everything perfect.
My favorite way to enjoy these dishes are on weekend mornings with whole wheat rotis/tortillas or parathas accompanied by an omelette. But they go very well with rice as well. Its time to eat!