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On one of my early visits to my daughter-in-law I had taken the morning flight in. The First Born was still in the US at the time. The cab ride from the airport to any destination in the city of Bangalore takes an inordinately long time. Though my flight itself took only one hour, the cab ride was a two hour long torture, and that tooo to cover a mere fraction of the distance. It was almost 11 a.m. when I finally reached her home that day.

She had informed me in advance that she’d be waiting and would leave for office only after meeting me. Accordingly there she was to welcome me and soon had me settled. She had made lunch and set it on the table to be had whenever I felt hungry. There was rice, chicken, lentils, and a couple of vegetable stir fry dishes. It looked like a veritable feast to me and I told her so, adding that I feared I’d scarcely do justice to it being a poor eater myself.

Though frenetic may not be the right term to describe her work life, the daughter-in-law does have a very busy schedule. So she left soon saying she’d be back home by 6 p.m. I had all the time in the world to relax, do the things I love like read or listen to music or daydream, whatever I fancied. Having had only a sandwich quite early in the morning, hunger pangs hit soon and I decided to have an early lunch and take a nap afterwards. Everything tasted so good, but there was one particular vegetable that tasted out of this world. I liked it so much that I mentioned it to my Second Born who rang to see what I was up to. I just cannot place what the vegetable is, I told him, but it is so crunchy and tastes so good!

The first thing I asked the daughter-in-law on her return from work – well, after the greetings, of course – was about the crunchy vegetable stir fry she had made. What vegetable is it, I asked, I loved it. She seemed nonplussed. Was it that good? she asked. Those were beans. Beans? No way. I know beans, they don’t look anything like these. They are a lighter shade of green and flat to boot. But apparently I had a lot more of the world to see and know. Those were indeed beans, a different kind that I hadn’t come across till then because my hometown had not yet ‘leveled’ up to that stage. These kind looked an eye-catching dark green and were more cylindrical in shape.

But tell me how you made it! I asked, making up my mind to start looking for these beans the minute I got back home. The recipe was no secret, and it was quite simple. She had sautéed crushed garlic in a little bit of oil and then stir fried the beans (which were first thrown in boiled water and then ‘shocked’ in cold water) with salt added. It was nothing really, she concluded. But it definitely wasn’t ‘nothing’ to me. I simply loved those beans and was determined to find and cook them just the way she had made it.

Easier said than done. I looked for the beans each time I ventured out to get vegetables but couldn’t find any, not at my usual haunts anyway. It was the same old light colored flat beans on display everywhere. But at last one day I found them and my joy new no bounds. The L&M was caught up in my excitement too. Hadn’t I raved about the dish to him, and to both the sons too, also to anyone who cared to listen. Anyway, the crunchy garlicky beans made that day became a huge hit with the L&M, and subsequently mother too.

By the way, from that first time I had chanced upon the beans in the supermarket, it is as if the vegetable suppliers here had at last decided the city was ready (‘leveled up’) for the dark green beans. In the days and months and years that followed, I started seeing them more often, in more and more places. So much so that that it has now become a regular thing in the market and a regular dish in my home. I am so fond of it I can have it all by itself to munch on as a snack any time of the day. My only regret is that with the advent of corona virus and with near and dear ones not visiting so much, I have not been able to make it for more people.

I don’t know if this stir fry dish has a name, but I am calling it Beans à la Arundhuti after my daughter-in-law.

© Shail Mohan 2021