Tuesday, 24 March 2020

French Bean and Meat Stew

French Bean ma Gos | French Bean and Meat Stew


Ma gos, or with meat, is how most Parsis eat their vegetables and meat. Influenced by their Persian ancestors, the people from Pars have more recently spread across the globe and no longer dominate just the sub-continent of India and Pakistan.

One often wonders if crossing borders has changed the way we eat as a community. Have we all forgotten the "ma gos"? To a fair extent, we have. But the revival of this ancient cuisine in the past few years has been rather remarkable. It is with much passion that the younger generation has started to embrace this simple fare. While many may never visit their ancestral homes, they do have easy access to our delightfully healthy and familial cuisine.

Social media chat groups, zoom with cooking demonstrations and picture-perfect cookbooks are their sources of inspiration. While the lucky few can turn to enthusiastic grandparents for encouragement. This dish has subtle flavours. It is not spicy, nor oily, and very simple. Using fresh French beans is always the best.


Serves 6

1 tsp oil

500 g/ 1 lb bone in meat-lamb, mutton, or goat

1 1/2 tsp ginger-crushed

1 1/2 tsp garlic-crushed

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp salt

3 finely chopped green chillies

1 cup fried onion, crushed
3 tomatoes -finely chopped
1 kg/ 2.2 lb French beans

Heat the oil and add the meat to brown all over. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, salt, green chillies, and fried onions. Give it a good stir. Add 1 cup of water, bring it all to a boil, and cover the pot. Lower the heat and cook the meat for 30 minutes. At this point, the water should be almost evaporated and the meat half done. Add the tomatoes, chillies, and French beans. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, covered.

Optionally add a pinch of sugar. It will bring out beans’ natural sweetness. It works on the same principle as adding salt to food.


The dish should be lush and not watery at all. If there is any watery residue left over, turn the flame on high for a few minutes, leaving the pot open to allow it to evaporate.

Do not turn the beans to mush. It should be cooked through but not mushy.

This recipe is for fresh beans. If you are using frozen ones, leave them on kitchen paper overnight for the water to be drained. Or you can dry them off in an oven and add them much later in the process, ensuring enough time to absorb the flavours. Or you may even stir fry the beans, allowing the water to evaporate before adding them to the meat and spices.

Traditionally French beans were cut at an angle in Parsi home kitchens. 

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

Photo Courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala

Faraj | French beans

One bean that is naturally sweet, crisp and packed with high water content is one of my favourites. The French bean is traditionally cut at an angle, very lightly spiced, and tastes delicious with in-season fresh beans. Having visited a farm as a young girl, I had the chance to pick them each morning and vividly recall the fresh earthy smell of the morning dew on these beautiful vines.

3 tbsp oil ½ kg/ 1.1 lb finely chopped onion 1 ½ tsp garlic ½ tsp crushed cumin powder 2 green chillies

1 kg/ 2.2 lb French beans 1 tsp salt A pinch of sugar 2 large tomatoes -diced

In a deep skillet heat the oil. Fry the onions until golden brown. Add garlic, cumin, and chillies. Add the French beans. Sprinkle it with salt and sugar. Tip over the tomatoes. Mix well. Cover, lower the heat and cook it for 30 minutes. Optionally add a small, diced potato, and/or a handful of peas.

Tips Do not over cook the beans. They must keep their shape and not be mushy.

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