Just recently, I discovered that clove beans make an excellent ingredient to create the delicious Konkani saglea. Saglea is a highly favored and flavored side dish of the Konkani people. A thick, fragrant, hot and spicy curry, it is generally made using either okra (ladies’ finger) or brinjal (aubergine or eggplants). The other vegetables that go in to complement the texture, taste and flavor of the saglea are potatoes and onions. I often add some tomatoes, elephant foot yams or drumsticks (muringa) too in some of the combinations.
A couple of months ago, my husband was invited by an old nature farmer to visit his farm. The kind old man took a deep interest in preserving ancient vegetables and herbs, and tens of varieties of yams and taros. He took a liking to my husband, a dedicated organic farmer himself, and the old man presented him with the seeds of some rare vegetables.
The following week, we planted them in our garden and soon, amongst other plants, some ipomoea like vines sprouted and started growing quickly. My husband tied them with a string to the frame of the greenhouse, and within two or three weeks, they had grown into tall vines and produced purple flowers of striking beauty.
One evening, at 5:30 pm, I heard my husband calling me, and I hurried quickly to his side. We were amazed to see the buds blooming into purple flowers, right before our eyes, one after the other, each taking just a minute or so to open fully. This blooming was indeed mesmerizing, and our son took this video which I happily share with you all.
A few days later, the tender clove beans appeared, getting ready for harvest, starting from the second day, up to the sixth day from the time of blooming.
As I liked to experiment making varied dishes out of new ingredients, I prepared some clove beans saglea using them. It turned out to be absolutely delicious! The ability of the clove beans to retain their crunchiness after cooking lends a distinct magical texture to the curry. Here is the recipe for you. Do cook and enjoy! Take care that you do not bite off your fingers, it is so good!
A tip for inexperienced growers
Unpicked clove beans grow fibrous with age and develop seed pods which contain 3 to 4 seeds. As this reduces production drastically and weakens the vine, it is best to pluck and use them when they are still tender, i.e., 2 to 6 days of age, leaving just one or two clove beans to develop into seeds. Clove bean vines grow well with added farmyard manure or compost, and keep yielding for months. In warm countries, they last for years and yield in all seasons. You can even grow them in pots on balconies.
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