Avarekai is that beloved winter veggie that Bangaloreans can’t live without. This winter bean, also known as hyacinth beans is so beloved by Bangalorean residents that it makes its way into every meal of the day – just ask anyone who has tried Avarekai at home. The leaves, flower, and pods are all edible, but what makes this bean so special is its powerful nutritional profile. It is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is an excellent source of protein, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium and manganese.
Many names one use
This legume goes by many names. It is called avarekai, hyacinth beans, lablab beans, green flat beans, val papdi, helda beans, sem-ki-phali and more.
These edible pods are green, and flat with smooth skin and have crunchy tender seeds inside. The seeds are anywhere between purple to green in colour and add their texture and amazing flavour to any dish.
The val-papdi are harvested while still very green and unripe as at this stage they are tender and delicious to eat. The pods are then used in preparing side dishes or sabjis.
The seeds inside, can be shelled and dried. These seeds are used as pulse/legumes to prepare gravy dishes. A hot favourite in the South, these beans are finding their way into many homes, states and cuisines.
Here in India, this bean is grown in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh. The cultivation begins in the last week of August or post-monsoon in September for the next two months and it’s harvested during winter.
The seeds are known to help with Parkinson’s disease. It is also known to improve bone health and boosts immunity. Eaten regularly, avarekai help in anaemia and improve high BP.
They are a good source of all the essential minerals, proteins, essential fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins. These beans are low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol and therefore heart-friendly.
The pods are also a good source of thiamine, magnesium and manganese. They are a rich source of vitamin D.
These beans are known to combat insomnia and prevent lung ailments. As antioxidants, hyacinth beans are nutritious and should take the centre of your table.
Avarekai is the glue that holds together all of Karnataka’s dishes in the winter. It can be found in idli, dosa, upma, mixed rice, rasam, sambhar, bisi bele bath and even sweets.
Every January, Bengaluru hosts ‘avarekai mela’, an annual food fair showcasing unique dishes made from avarekai. It’s a chance to get a taste of the city’s unique avarekai dishes like the avarekai saaru, which is made with avarekai dosa and avarekai vada. Or you can try the green jalebi or chikki or crunchy avarekai mixture and relive the golden moments of this bean. You can also enjoy a variety of other dishes made from avarekai, every dish you try at the Avarekai Mela will be a treat for your taste buds!
These beans are gluten-free. They are often recommended as an alternative gluten-free protein food.
Fresh, immature pods carry excellent levels of vitamin-A and K. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant which helps in mucosal-related issues.
Fresh pods are packed with vitamin C. As a powerful water-soluble antioxidant vitamin C aids in wound healing, and tissue repair.
Don’t wait for the winters to end, buy avarekai now and enjoy the season. You don’t have to traverse the busy markets for these lovely beans.