This Bhaaji brings back memories of my Aai sending out signals to Dad that it was the month end whenever she made it. LOL. How? In the days of yore when we were a budget conscious family. There was no way that my Mom could get an extra penny to spend, that too not for her own but for the family's meal so this was her trick. My Dad never liked this bhaaji and she would make it exactly at the month end when she had to limit buying fresh vegetables. In a joint family one had to buy 2kgs of a single vegetable for just one side dish in one meal. The moment Bhajalele Valachi Bhaaji was on the plate my Dad would go all red and a typical husband- wife expression of love would follow;).
So when you have less veggies available this Isavanachi Bhaaji is ideal. Now Isavanachi Bhaaji in Koli is vegetables cooked with mainly dried fish but sometimes with dried beans . The word Isavan, I feel is derived from the English word essence meant to be used as flavouring. Strange but yes Koli dailect has quite a bit of English influence ex. calling someone a gentleman may be a good thing in English but in Koli it is quite something else to call someone Jhaatliman (mispronouncing gentleman) :P.
Coming back to our story. So why would Bhajalele Valachi Bhaaji be a month end special. Val were always stored for the entire year and they came from our native place so it meant they were free! It was enough to have just 1/2kg of fresh ivy gourd to add to the Val and churn up a yummy bhaaji that the majority liked except my Dad ofcourse! That too his dislike for this really yummy bhaaji stemmed from the signal that it was meant to send out.
However when I made it in my Mom's memory the other day he actually enjoyed it. It brought him to comment on a few things too. He told me to use Kadve Val as they are best suited for this Bhaaji and that Mom almost always made it with ivy gourd unlike my version with ridge gourd. "Khup Divsan ni Khalli" He gleemed. Yes both of us have now learned to smile when Aai is mentioned.
This bhaaji has no shortcuts if you want the true taste. I believe this is my Mom's original recipe as I haven't seen it in other Koli homes except my relatives who learnt it from my mother. Let me start by listing the ingredients.
1/2 cup dried Field beans/Val
1 medium sized ridge gourd (my version)
1/4 kg ivy gourd/ tondli (Aai's original recipe)
2 big onions sliced
2 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup grated dry coconut
4-5 pods garlic
3-4 red chilies
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon koli masala (optional)
salt to taste
Grind all the items together in the dry grinder and save.
1. Roast the dry beans in a wok. When you start roasting they will look like this.
When they are roasted well they start glistening with sweat like this and look plump.
Let the roasted beans cool. While they are cooling, rinse the ridge gourd thoroughly and shave off the ridges with a peeler. These shaving can be used to make a chutney for which the post will follow. The bald gourd is diced into chunks and used for this bhaaji.
2. Steam the beans in a cooker with water enough to cover them. What I do is if using my big cooker, along with the dal and the rice, I put the roasted Val cover them with chopped vegetable and minimum water. So it cooks in the juices of the vegetable. Save.
This bhaaji is best made on an iron girdle so put it on the heat. Pour the oil on it and fry the onions a bit. Add the masala and fry for 2 mins. Now add the cooked val and vegetables. Don't forget the salt. Let the bhaaji simmer for 10 mins, stir intermittently.
This bhaaji tastes amazing fresh as well as on the next day. I made this bhaaji with ridge gourd yet my Mom's original is with tondli so try that one first.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.