My bua or dad’s sister sends over this dish of Vaal or Butter beans quite often and we love it because of the sweet-sour flavours. Instead of cooking the beans with onions and tomatoes and lots of other masalas, she uses just besan or gram flour and a simple tempering. The real flavour is introduced right at the end with the addition of sugar and amchoor or dry mango powder.
This preparation also happens to be Jain, which means that it uses no onions, garlic, potatoes or other root veg. When I’m in the mood for a comforting meal, I tend to cook up something like this for myself because of its simplicity. Vaal is available at most grocery stores and needs a long overnight soak to double in size and get it ready for cooking the next day. Using a pressure cooker to make this dish of beans saves a lot of time, but if you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, you could choose to simmer the beans for a longer time or until they’re done.
Vaal Nu Shaak
This simple-to-make dish of butter beans and besan is all about striking the right balance between sour amchoor and sugar. Serve with heaps of fresh coriander and rice or rotis.
Vaal or dried butter beans 1/2 cup dry, soaked overnight in salted water
Vegetable Oil 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida a large pinch
Green chillies 1-2, slit lengthwise and chopped finely
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp, or more as per your taste
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Salt 1 tsp, plus more to taste
Amchoor powder 1/2 tsp, or more
Sugar 1 tsp, or more
Besan or gram flour 1 tbsp, mixed in with water
Fresh Coriander 2-3 tbsp, chopped
Before you start on the recipe, make sure that the Vaal or butter beans are well soaked and have doubled in size.
In a pressure cooker, heat the vegetable oil. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and green chillies when the oil is hot and sauté them till the mixture is aromatic.
Drain the vaal and add it to the cooker and stir it through the spices well. Add in the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and the salt. Stir briefly.
Dissolve the besan in a small teacup or katori full of water before adding it to the cooker. Stir it with the vaal to coat the beans. Top the mixture up with water to just cover the surface and put the lid on.
Continue cooking this over medium-high to high heat for about 5-6 whistles, 20 minutes, or till the beans are cooked through. Once the pressure is released, add in the amchoor powder and the sugar. Check for salt. At times, adding a bit more salt here really brings out a bright and more pronounced sweet-sour flavour which we’re aiming for.
Finish with lots of chopped coriander and serve with rice or rotis.