Makhon shim er bhorta, Spicy Sword bean paste

6:23 PM

Food has a universal language. It runs as a common thread through all the realm of boundaries, ethnicities, religions and languages, and no matter where you are, a shared table never fails to bring people closer. Every time you offer food to someone, you show that you care without actually uttering the words. 

My mother ran a successful Handicraft business (Read Bengal's very own Kantha). Her work required her to travel to remote villages where the rural women/ housewives did the embroidery. most of them uneducated and hardly ever have gone outside that small village. Maa had a wonderful relationship with them. They would come and sit on the floor, talk, laugh, share stories and anecdotes from their daily lives, They often would ask for maa's suggestions on many of their daily woes, and maa who was a mentor for them always took very good care of them.

Once when my mother was very sick she was not able to travel and go to their villages for work so these ladies took it upon themselves and came visiting her in groups. They often brought things to show their love. They brought veggies from their gardens, food from their kitchen and sometimes handcrafted household items like handheld fans or baskets. These ladies came from mostly farming backgrounds and were very poor, yet they never shied away to share what they have. I especially loved it when they brought items that I have never seen or ate. Like once they brought a few matured Kadamful. Never in my dreams, I could imagine that those were edible and when asked they were more than happy to quickly whip up a spicy chutney for us with only a few pantry staples. It is this time when I first tasted Makhon shim and completely taken aback by its size and sturdiness.

Makhon shim/ Mou shim/ Sita shim or Sword beans is a species from the legume family and mostly grows wild. The matured beans are very hard and not nice to eat. But the tender ones are quite a joy. Though less on flavourful but very tasty and absorb flavours really well. It is believed that these beans are mildly toxic hence are always cooked by steaming and discarding the water.

That day the lady cooked a spicy mash out of it and later Maa cooked the same with some addition of tiny shrimps.

The recipe is very similar to my Lay pata bata recipe, which is an eternal favourite. This shim bhorta comes second. And am also sharing a simple shim and alu bhaja recipe.

Makhon shim er bhorta
(Serves 4)

Makhon shim: 500 gms
Garlic cloves: 5-6 cloves, chopped 1 tbsp (not the fat ones)
Nigella seeds: 1/2 tsp
Mustard paste: 1 tbsp
Shrimps or small prawns: 1/4 cup
Mustard oil/white oil: 2 tbsp or more.
Green chillies: 3-4 or as per your liking
Salt as per taste
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: as per taste

Wash and discard the ends from the beans and cut in 3-4 pieces. Boil this for 7-8 minutes in salted water. Drain and mash to a coarse consistency. Keep aside.
Make a coarse paste of the garlic, chillies and prawns in your mixer. I useds even the prawn heads. Just make sure you do this before cooking. Do not make a paste and keep it waiting for longer period of time.
Mix the prawn and beans paste together.

Heat oil in the pan and once it's hot add the nigella seeds. Let it splutter then add the paste. Mix and cook on medium to low flame with some salt and turmeric. Cook for 5 minutes till it dries up a little bit then add the mustard paste. Mix and cook for another 3-4 minutes and then give it a taste test. Adjust if more salt, sugar or chili is needed. Cook on low till the mash starts to leave the sides.

Take off and serve hot with steamed rice.

Notun alu, makhon shim bhaja (New potato and sword bean stir fry)
(Serves 4)

Makhon shim: 250 gms (chopped 2 cups)
New potatoes: 8-10 pieces
Nigella seeds: 1/2 tsp
Green chillies: 2
Oil: 2 tbsp

wash and discard the ends. Chop in 1 cm thick pieces. Boil for 5-6 minutes in salted water. Discard the water and drain as much water as possible from the beans.

Wash the new potatoes very well by scrubbing the skin. You can keep the skin on discard it. Since I use organic potatoes I like to keep the skin on.

Heat oil and temper with nigella seeds and green chillies. Once it start to splutter add the potatoes and beans. Add salt and turmeric and mix. Cook on medium for 4-5 minutes with a lid on. 

Then take the lid off and mix and fry it till all the water dries up. Taste test and adjust the flavours.

Serve hot with rice or roti.

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