The rainy season is here and the market is flooded with many varieties of green vegetables. Apart from the variety of leafy greens available, there is a vast variety of green beans to be found. Often we are confused about what is the particular bean called and then how it is cooked. There are several indigenous green beans available which are not well documented or defined but localites do know how to cook them.
We have listed a few of the more popular ones below:
French beans / String beans / Chikudu (Telugu)/Farasbee (Hindi)
French beans are long, tender, firm yet flexible edible pods of bean plant. One cup of fresh green beans (about 100 grams) contains approximately 31 cal, 7 g carbohydrates, 3 g of fiber and 2 g of protein with no fat. So we can see that like most vegetables, beans contain very few calories and lot of fiber which can give satiety without adding to the caloric content of the diet.
Green beans are a rich source of vitamin A, C and K and also contain folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium and potassium. French beans are used in many dishes including pulavs, curries, stir-fries, fried rice, etc
Cluster Beans/ Guar ki Phali (Hindi) /Goruchikkudu (Telugu)
Cluster beans, also called guar ki phali , are smaller, slimmer and flatter than the french beans and are more popular in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. They have a good shelf life of at least 4 days when kept in the refrigerator. Keeping them open is apparently the best way to store them. These are available fresh and plenty in the rainy season. Usually beans require removal of the end and a fibrous thread like tail that enables faster cooking of the bean.
They are used extensively in the South-Indian and Maharashtrian cuisine. Cluster beans have a slightly bitter taste that can be toned down by adding tamarind, coconut, jaggery and even tomatoes.
These beans are rich in soluble fiber which is excellent to maintain good gut health and also reduce cholesterol and bring down blood sugars. It is a good source of vitamin C which increases immunity and folic acid which helps in increasing fertility.
Yard long beans /Barbati (Hindi)/ Ara Chintakayalu (Telugu)
Yard long beans are slender and grow upto 10-12 inches long approximately the size of a pencil. When they are pale green and tender , they taste sweeter and more fleshy rather than the dark green ones which have a less delicate taste. These beans grow well in high temperatures which is not suitable for the other bean varieties. So a warm climate with low rainfall is is preferable for growing these beans.
The mature bean obtained from long beans are dried and stored to be cooked as pulses or sprouted after soaking overnight.
Flat beans / Papdi beans (Hindi)/ Chikkudu (Telugu)
Papdi is also called the Indian bean or val and Hyacinth bean in Africa. The pods grow up to 4-5cm long and is a flat and thick bean. It has a nutty aroma and slightly sweet taste and is used extensively in the Gujarati cuisine especially for making undhiyu.
Hyacinth Bean contains copper which is important for cognition and mood elevation. Hyacinth beans contains adequate amount of potassium which reduce the muscle cramps and improves the strength of muscles. It possesses antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic properties by virtue of its high content of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and anti-oxidants.
Beans add colour, crunch and lots of nutritional value to the dish. With the growing emphasis on including 3 cups of vegetables in our daily diet, different varieties of the green beans can help to fulfill these requirements in a healthy and tasty way. So next time you see them, make sure you try them!