Yellow Bean Stew
Myanmar is not short on flavorful vegetarian dishes—this stew is another example of that! I love this dish because it can easily be made in bulk and lasts a few meals and it is really inexpensive. Also, if I have any leftover meat curry from a previous meal, I can easily add it in to give the whole meal extra protein and flavor (and use up leftovers in the process–always a win).
I struggled to name this recipe; in Burmese, part of its name contains a pejorative term for an ethnic group in Myanmar. When neighbors ask me what I am cooking and it happens to be this dish, I omit the pejorative term as I answer, even though that makes my meaning very ambiguous. (There is a lot I am helpless to do when it comes to racism, but I like to resist it with the words I choose, whenever possible.) A local friend confirmed that calling this “Yellow Bean Stew” is a good way to go.
I get annoyed with blogs that spend forever expounding on the history and wonders of the recipe in question. If you are like me, you came here to cook, so I will spare you that nonsense, and say only one more thing: the heart of this dish is the lentils and spices. Feel free to change or adjust the added vegetables to your liking. Enjoy!
1 ½ cups lentils, rinsed
6-7 cups of water
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 medium sized potatoes, diced (if you are a proper, hardworking Burmese housewife, you must also peel the potatoes, or your guests will say you are lazy)
10 fingers of okra, sliced thin
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic,
1 tsp of fresh ginger, diced
1 tsp mild chili powder
2 tsp of chicken bouillion (or substitute chicken broth for some of the water listed above)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (optional, for extra flavor)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Put the lentils and water in a large pot on the stovetop and cook for an hour, or until the lentils are soft and very mushy. (We always use a pressure cooker for this part, and 40 minutes on medium pressure does the trick quite nicely.)
Put all the chopped veggies (except for the okra) in a bowl of water to soak.
Place the garlic and ginger in a mortar and pound until the two are completely combined. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mince the garlic and ginger as well as you can, and then mash them together in a small bowl using the back of a spoon.)
In a frying pan, heat the oil, and then add the diced onion. As the onion cooks, add in the chili powder and the pounded garlic and ginger. Continue to cook the onion mixture until the onions have become translucent and are starting to crisp, and the garlic is fragrant.
Add the onion mixture to the already cooked lentils. Add the salt, chicken bouillon, and curry powder (if desired). Add all the vegetables, except for the okra, and continue to cook the stew until the vegetables have softened.
Have a taste! If the flavors and texture are satisfactory, add in the okra and cook for another few minutes until the okra is just softened.
Serve with rice. This stew goes really well eaten with paratha, if you have any on hand. Or you could eat it with pita bread, as a more western alternative to the paratha. This stew keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and the flavor is even better on the second or third day.