In 1984, we attended a Marathi wedding. In the wedding feast, a dish of brinjal and mochai (field beans) was served, and I was impressed by the taste and even asked for a second helping. My daughter, who was only 10 years old at that time, still remembers that incident. I tried to recreate the dish, but I could not get the exact flavour and consistency. A few months ago a Facebook friend, Vandarkuzhali Rajasegar, who is also an Assistant Professor in Foods and Nutrition, posted that she had made a dish of brinjal and white channa (whole Bengal gram/white chickpea). I immediately asked her for the recipe. Though she gave me a mere skeleton of the recipe, without amounts, I knew immediately that I had hit upon that 1984 dish. I standardised it using mochai, and I got the exact flavour after all these years 😀
Dry mochai, or field beans, is one of the richest members of the pulse family. It contains 25g of protein per 100g. It is always combined with a vegetable, especially those with a neutral flavour, because this pulse has a very strong flavour. It is also notorious for producing flatulence 🙂 When served with plain rice, the rice and the mochai together give a very high quality protein.
- 300g Kathirikkai (Brinjal/Eggplant)
- 1/3 C Field Beans
- ½ C peeled Sambar Onions (Shallots)
- 1/3 C peeled small Garlic
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 ½ tsp Salt, or to taste
- 1/3 C Gingelly Oil (Sesame Oil)
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves (optional)
Broil and Powder together
- 1 T Coriander Seeds
- ½ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- Soak the field beans overnight in water.
- Pressure cook the field beans in a cup of water for 20 minutes.
- Remove the stems from the brinjal and quarter the vegetable lengthwise.
- Heat the gingelly oil in a medium, heavy-based kadai or wok.
- Add the garlic cloves. When tiny blisters appear on the garlic, add the sambar onion and fry till the surface is cooked.
- Add the brinjal and stir. When half cooked, add the turmeric and chilli powders and salt. Continue to cook till the brinjal is tender.
- Add the field beans and half of the cooking water, and cook till well blended.
- Add the powdered masala and stir.
- If the fry is too thick, you can add a little more of the cooking water and stir.
- Add curry leaves, stir once, and remove.
- Serve with plain rice.
- Drop the dry field beans into a metallic vessel. The ones which fall with a bell-like sound when they hit the vessel will not soak at all, and should be removed.
- I use Kashmiri chilli powder for its mild flavour and rich colour. If you are using any other variety, use only half the amount.
- Choose a small variety of garlic so that there will be many in the 1/3 cup, and they will blend with the field beans and you can use them whole. If you are using a large variety of garlic, do not cut in two to make it small. The cut surface will give a completely different flavour and taste to the dish.
- Peel the garlic and the sambar (shallots) onion the previous day and refrigerate. This will save your pre-preparation time.
- Use only gingelly oil. No other oil will give you its rich and earthy flavour.