Monday 25 August 2014

Guar Jhinga- Guar/Cluster Beans with Prawn

Guar Jhinga

From the regions of rural Gujrat comes the cluster bean, or guar. A flat bean that was once considered rather lowly. It has a bitter aftertaste, can be hard, and takes longer to cook than most other vegetables. The larger and older the cluster bean, the more defined its toughness. When cooking, it's best in season, and picking thin, young beans (kumri guar) gives you the best results. It is always best when the Parsi trilogy of spicy, sour, and sweet is applied when cooking it. The chillies give it the tikhu, but the khatu is dependent on unripe mangoes or fruit vinegar, and the jaggery well balances the mithu for this dish, leaving it with a lovely sheen as well.
Research also shows that the hot and arid lands of Texas grow it, as it produces guar gum, which is used in many products as a preservative. Its roots originate in parts of Africa.
Like most other foods, every recipe has to be good, and the cook has to wise up to the small details and nuances of what makes the dish the star rather than a failure at the dinner table.
Navsari, the old capital of Parsi culinary masterpieces, is now once again sharing its treasures. Udwada, a few miles away, and a much smaller township continue to compete. Either way, we have much to thank these places for for their brilliance in teaching us and handing us over so many traditional foods that we continue to enjoy and call our own. Surat also has a spot on this list.
Gujarat, being on the coast, offered an abundance of seafood, and prawns were common and easily available. To turn this plain old cluster bean into something special, prawns were often added to the recipe. Growing up, we used to love guar with prawns, as well as mutton, goat, or lamb pieces. My mother, the ever-perfectionist, could make it superbly. I can still remember the absolutely delicious taste of the simple, everyday food she could magically produce.
It's up to you to make the guar the focal point of this work of art rather than an afterthought.
It's up to you to make the guar the star and not the extra in this piece of art.

Guar and jhinga served with rotli/chappati

Guar jhinga
Prawns with Guar beans

3 tbsp oil
2 large onions finely chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground garlic
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chillie powder
1 tsp green chillies finely chopped
1 ½ tsp salt
2 large tomatoes
1 /2 kilo tender guar beans
2 small green raw mangoes peeled and sliced
1 cup water

2 tbsp jaggery

½ kilo prawns, shelled, deveined and washed

Heat the oil and fry the onions till golden brown. Add in the spices and simmer for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute.
Now add the guar and mangoes. Add about a cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook the guar beans for 45 minutes till almost cooked through. The water must all evaporate. Lastly add the prawns and the jaggery and cook for another 10 minutes stirring often. Keep on cooking and stirring until little oil comes up on the sides of the pan.

Remove the string from the guar bean and cut into two or three pieces. The younger the bean is the tender the string and skin is. 
Guar takes an hour to cook sometimes. It must become soft enough to eat but not into a mush. 
You know when it is ready when the drops of oil rise to the side of the pan. This is called "tayl per avanu"; something one learns about a lot for this particular type of cooking.
You may substitute kebabs for prawns if you wish or simply serve it as a vegetarian dish by itself.

Read more about the origins of Parsi Food in my cookbook
The Art of Parsi Cooking;reviving an ancient cuisine.

For more Parsi regional recipes click on
Niloufer's Kitchen: Autumn

Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy

Read more on Niloufer's Kitchen in The Huffington Post Blog

Photo credit Sheriar Hirjikaka

Readers reviews
11th September 2016
Naila Valliani Narges I made the goar Ma shrimp. Turned out fantastic!
Naila Valliani Love the recipes Niloufer cos they are easy to follow!

1 comment:

  1. Hello!

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