The only bean I ate whilst growing up was the red speckled beans, I hated anything else in a bean form. My mum cooked these beautiful pink beans and it was called Gadra beans, I have no idea where the name comes from but I discovered on Google that the real name for these white beans with pink hues is Borlotti beans. I have since learned to cook this Gadra Bean Curry and has become a firm favourite in our home, especially on those meat free days.
I remember when I still lived at home going to the market on a Saturday was a real treat, my mum and dad used to visit the Verulam market which is in Kwazulu Natal, where I was raised. They bought the freshest vegetables and although it was cheap, Indians had to always bargain with the farmers. Some still do. I wish I had that trait but I don’t, I’m better at giving away things for free and I suck at bargaining so I won’t even try.
Barlotti beans is not so easily found in the supermarkets in Johannesburg, however Food Lover’s Market and Checkers Hyper do stock loads of vegetables that are consumed by the Indian population. I get really excited when I see the vegetables I grew up eating.
In South Africa there are literally hundreds of variations to cooking any one dish. My mum cooked this Gadra Bean Curry totally differently to the way my mum-in-law cooks it. My mum created a dish, almost like a dry curry and my mum-in-law cooks it like any other bean curry with potatoes and lots of gravy. I prefer my mum-in-laws method as I get to add my most loved veggie to it, potatoes. Once cooked the beans have a creamy texture and a nutty flavour. It is a good source of protein and can be served with roti or rice.
Looking for more meat free dishes, here’s some of my favourties:
Gadra (Borlotti) Bean Curry
- 1 cup fresh barlotti/gadra beans
- 1 tbsp melted ghee or cooking oil
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 1 5cm piece cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star aniseed
- 1 sprig curry leaf
- 1 tspn ginger/garlic paste
- 1/2 tspn ground coriander
- 1/2 tspn ground cumin
- 1/4 tspn turmeric
- 1/4 tspn ground fennel seeds/soomph
- 1 tbsp masala
- 1 tspn Kashmiri chilli powder
- 2 roma tomatoes blanched and grated
- 2 potatoes peeled and cut into large cubes
- Heat ghee on a medium heat and add cinnamon stick and star aniseed. Once fragrant add bay leaf, onion and curry leaf. Saute until onion is slightly brown
- Then add the ginger/garlic paste. Fry for a minute and then add all the spices and fry for a further minute. Add a few drops of water if required.
- Add the beans, season with salt and mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until all the moisture dries out
- Add half cup of water. Cover and cook until beans are soft. You can add a little more water during cooking time if it dries out
- Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add another half cup of water, cover and cook on a low heat. Please note the amount of water required depends on how much gravy you want and also depends on how fast or how soft your potatoes cook. Some potatoes cook really quickly and therefore you have to ensure your beans are soft before adding in the potatoes and be careful not to add too much water. If your potatoes are a more firm and takes longer to cook you may require more water as the longer the cooking time the more the gravy will reduce.