This recipe is really easy and obscenely tasty. It is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cooking. The original recipe specifies very fresh whole pea pods, to be eaten like artichoke leaves (pull between your teeth, so that you eat not just the peas but the fleshy part of the pod as well). I found that it worked very well with green beans (to be eaten whole, as normally), which I happened to have on hand.
3/4 pound green beans
1 tbs ghee
1/8 tsp ground asafoetida (hing powder)
1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp garam masala (plus addition 1/2 tsp garam masala at end) (see note*)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbs warm water
Clean and snap off the ends of the green beans.
Heat the ghee over moderately high heat in a 10″ skillet. When hot, add the asafoetida and cumin seeds and stir once. When the cumin seeds change color (10-20 seconds), add the green beans and stir for 1 minute. Add lemon juice, the first 1/2 tsp garam masala, salt and pepper. Stir, add the warm water, bring to a boil, turn heat to very low, cover, and cook gently for about 20 minutes, until tender (Jaffrey specifies 20-30 minutes for the pea pods, but I found the beans were done in just under 20). Stir once or twice during cooking.
Serve in a warm dish, sprinkled with the addiitonal garam masala.
* Note: there are many different varieties of garam masala. For this recipe, I used one from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking:
3 tbs black cardamom pods
3 cinnamon sticks, about 2-3 inches long
1 tbs whole black cloves
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1/2 cup cumin seeds
1/2 cup coriander seeds
Break open cardamom pods, remove seeds and reserve; discard skin. Crush the cinnamon with a kitchen mallet to break it into small pieces. Combine all the spices including the cardamom seeds and roast them in a thick-bottomed pan, stirring frequently, until they darken slightly and become richly aromatic. Allow to cool, grind in a spice grinder, and then store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Recipe may be cut in half.