Black Pearls

Late last night I read Indira's post on Bloggers and Beans and it brought to mind a very special friendship that developed because of my lemon pickle. We met, we shopped together, we cooked together and we have a very wonderful relationship that we are all very comfortable with. Sometimes we don't talk or correspond for several weeks, only to pick up the phone to ask for a recipe or to ask for directions to that store that one of us mentioned fleetingly in a conversation months ago. Or to simply catch up. Sometimes we pick up things that we remember the other wanted, even when we are on a business trip thousand miles away from home. Lee brought me these wonderful black pearls from Dallas because she remembered...

Thank you, Lee!

I also have some very  vocal how could I not post this recipe again? Just for them?

Chitkya ani Kalya Vatanyachi Bhaji

Cluster Beans with Dried Black Peas

  • Have a dear friend lug you a packet of kale vatane from a thousand miles away
  • Look at them longingly, touch them, enjoy their color and texture
  • When you have had enough of visual pleasure and gustation becomes imminent, soak 1/4 cup kale vatane overnight, in at least twice the amount of water
  • Wash the kale vatane and cook them in a pressure cooker with at least 1/2 cup water for 2-3 whistles. If you skip soaking them, you need to cook them in the pressure cooker for at least 8-10 whistles. I recommend the former as you will be doing your bit for our overheated planet
  • Make Chitkyachi Bhaji, a bhaji that is always on the menu on auspicious occasions in our family, including shraddha.

How can I not send this to Nupur for her RCI - Maharashtrian Cuisine? I have to!

If you're still grumbling about recipe redux, consider this: how could a post about friends not be about nostalgia? Even Indira's recipe was revisited. So there!


bee said...

wonderful looking black pearls. have never come across them. so these recipe gluttons were moaning while you had soaked the beans overnight and were plan to post about them anyway? :-D

Indian Food Rocks said...

Uh-huh! But watch them moan anyway!

And I soaked the peas, not the beans. The beans just got the wash and then chop-chop treatment. Someone was complaining very recently about people not reading posts... I wonder who that was!

Anita said...


At least we get a new picture. No puy lentils, and no black pearls...I'll have my revenge...what can I make with Hapoos that a certain friend thinks is the King of mangoes?

Wait a minute, I don't need a recipe either. Slice and eat...oooh!

Indian Food Rocks said...

The President arrives. The Secretary can't be far behind. Welcome!

You mean we can get authentic Indian ingredients in the US but you can't get them there? And, no! There is no shortage because of exports so just don't even go there! I don't think these are heard of outside of Maharashtra and Goa. My aunt was telling me the recipe of kalya vatanyachi amti but I was too busy with the gutli from the sasav she had made. I need to find sweet-tart mangoes to make sasav. Don't waste your Hapoos on sasav. Chill it, slice it and eat it and watch it go right to your hips!

My sister was telling me how North Indian mangoes are making their way to Bombay now. She spoke of Dussehri and how it's not quite Hapoos but is sugary-sweet and pretty good. She said it finally looks like Maharashtrians are expanding their horizons beyond Hapoos. She also said that the choicest Hapoos still goes to the Middle East, not the US. She must have insider connections. But I think that this influx of North Indian mangoes into Bombay is going to create a shortage in Delhi. Muahahahaha!

Anita said...

Don't worry on account of my hips - I compensate by adding way less oil in my vaangi bhaath. :-)

So that is where all the safeda went and I had my fruit seller selling us a 'type of safeda.' Which was even better! Don't worry about fruit shortage either - safeda is selling for Rs25 a kilo - there is plenty for all who want it. Soon it will be time for the lame one - the langda!

Do you think your resourceful sis could send a small package of these pearlies my way? I can ask nicely if you want. :-)

bee said...

prove that you didn't soak the beans. they look soaked to me. ;-)

Indian Food Rocks said...

Less oil in vangi bhath? Blasphemy! No goda masala? Worse!

I'll see that you get a packet of these one way or another!

Bee, you win! They're soaked in a wonderful mixture of oil (yes, Anita, oil!), water, veggie juices, chilli powder, gur and other spices.

Anjali Koli said...

Manisha I love those pictures. You can make the unknowing really go crazy over them.

Priya said...

Manisha...ek weak moment aur ab I am waiting for 3 cookbooks !! I always glance at the cover of Ammini Ramachandran's book each time I come to your blog and today the glance just pulled me in and before I could stop to think I bought 3 cookbooks !! Should I be doing this :) or :(( !! Paise tho hai nahin.. :((

Pelicano said...

So...revisiting an old recipe again are we? Tsk... so it has a new pic. and the correct ingredient this time. whoop-dee-dingy-doo... :-D

Those black vatanas remind me of black soy-beans. I've always wanted to use them to make black soy-milk and then black tofu. But..I haven't yet.

I see more mango-bragging; that's all I can take! I'm hauling out the asparagus now...

Gini said...

Manisha, I can't seem to get any comments posted here. I get kicked out everytime I try to. Did you set it that way?
This is what I have been trying to say. Now for the third time, I think that you and your friends are really entertaining and it makes visits to your blog extra special.

Gini said...

Looks like I am in. So let me say little bit more.
I like the recipe revisiting part. The last time you revisited vangi bath, I made it and loved it. And now that cluster beans have been revisited, I think it's time to go look for them. They better be good :)

shilpa said...

Never seen these black pearls. How would you describe the taste, Manisha? I go nuts about all kinds of dried beans, hence the question.

Nupur said...

Yummy as ever! I love these black pearls, and those beans...why are they not more easily available here in the US ??
I know them as "gavar" though, not chitkya. Thanks for a wonderful entry!

Shilpa said...

I love these kale vatane. My mom's sister(pachi) makes some dish with these vatane and it used to taste heavenly. In Belgaum we used to get some dish with these vatanes in our hostel "mess" :). I wish I could get some here, they taste great.
I haven't tasted them with cluster beans though. Looks very good.

Anupama said...

Hey Manisha, Hi after a long time. I loved your step by step Lemon pickle recipe. I also have a favourite lemon pickle recipe which I make by cooking the lemons pieces in the pressure cooker. It comes out gorgeous and is easily made as soon as you have the craving for one. I will attempt yours too. The sun is finaly shining on England too. So I would say Make pickles while the sun shines

Lee said...


I just got back from an 8 day trip to LA. The internet access was awful - mostly not working, so I just saw this post.

I cannot tell you how wonderful reading it made me feel. I'm still smiling. It is indeed a wonderful, very special treasure of a friendship that we have. I don't even know how many people I have shared bits of your blogs with, especially about cooking something slowly and reveling in the fact that doing that creates your own space and time.

You too, have given me something very special.


Indian Food Rocks said...

Anjali, thank you! :-D

Priya, weak moments bring lasting pleasures! Cookbooks are a great investment. Novels? Borrow from the library, read and return. As for paise nahin hain - paise hotey hain. We are just trained to think we never have enough. Trust me, I know. We hit near rock bottom during the dotcom bust. :-D

Yes, Pel. Revisiting. Redux. You call it whatever you want. It's a hot favorite with us.

Gini, glad you were able to post your comment eventually. If you aren't already using it, do switch to Firefox. A lot of the problems go away.

And, boy, am I glad someone appreciates the revisiting business. All the ingrates above to please note!

Shilpa, these are very earthy. They are quite hard and hold their own even after soaking overnight and then cooking under pressure. They are like an earthier and tougher version of the safed vatana.

Nupur, kale vatane aren't particularly popular. And thus far I have only seen them in Mahrashtrian and Goan cuisine. Whic would explain why they are not easily found in the US. My friend lugged them from Dallas for me. Apparently, they can be found in Nj - stores in Parsipanny, I believe.

Shilpa, I know what you are talking about! Roast onion and coconut, along with the masala and grind that to make the curry. We used to devour this curry with pav, by the plateful, at the little shack near our temple in Goa.

Anupama, you have been one busy girl! Your photos are in newspapers and you are on TV! Way to go! I am very interested in your pressure cooker recipe. Please post your recipe soon!

Sunshine, mala pan kadhi avadli nahin, as a kid. I think this is more for mature taste buds. Hmm! Medha loves this! But then again, she loves spinach and most veggies.

Lee!, you're back! I treasure our friendship, too! I thought of you with every bite.

For most people, cooking is a chore. I have found that it is a daily activity (almost) from which much can be gained. It has become my time with myself and even though I often cook towards the end of a long day, the process itself is quite gratifying. And the end result equally so, because for the most part, everyone enjoys the meal.

I think if we take the chore out of daily stuff and change our prespective, we might make some progress in becoming less stressed.

Gini said...

Yeah, I felt like you needed some support :)
And yeah, I have been using firefox. IE is a thing of the past for me.

Priyanka said...

Had never come across this recipe. Recipes faar chan ahet. bakichya aramat vachin. thanks for sharing.

Anita said...

There it is!
Alas, I made the cluster beans this morning without them! I did not remember at all that you had cooked these together! But the masala should still wotk then?