July 28, 2011

Beans, Paneer & Cashews

July 28, 2011
We learnt about the tragic accident upon arriving at the farm. Two days ago a thunder had killed two pregnant cows on the pasture. It had been a horrific sight. The farmer had tears in his eyes when he was talking about it. Five of his cows had survived.

It is a small organic farm 15 minutes drive from our home. The moment you take a turn from the main road, you shift 50-60 years back in time. The place is peaceful and run by the anthroposophists. I’m always happy to see so many friendly and hard working youngsters offering a helping hand there.

I was packing a basketful of beet leaves the farmer had given when my high school crush stepped in the shop. What are the odds! I hadn’t seen him for 28 years. It was strange. For a moment I reduced into the idolizing teenage I once was, but snapped out of it quickly. Our lives have taken different routes. He is a well known musician with his American wife. They have two beautiful daughters. My farm-buddies, the couple I always visit the farm with, could not be further away from his circle of friends and associates.

They, Jvalamauli and Ratirupa, are 75 years old. We share the same lifestyle and values. They are bhakti-yogis par excellence. Outwardly generous and soft hearted, they are internally disciplined and focused. Their home is a temple. They wake up early in the morning, bath, sing prayers in Sanskrit and Bengali, meditate for two hours, cook vegetarian and go about their daily activities. At every sunrise, noon and sunset they stop whatever they are doing, whether sleeping, walking or talking, and quietly chant the all auspicious gayatri-mantra in mind. They are happy, helpful and enthusiastic. They define the word “service”. They breathe to serve. Amazing friends!

If you are thinking what a sweet Indian couple, you are mistaken. They are Finns who have given up the pursuit of materialism a long time ago. I consider it one of the greatest blessings that I’ve gotten to know them and others like them. The worldly fame of my high school delight seems less important next to their good qualities.

I made a simple lunch from the broad beans I got from the farm. If you don’t like the skins of the beans, you can peel them. Personally I don’t mind them, provided the beans are young and fresh. It is just fibre that gives a bit more to chew. The recipe of beans, paneer and cashews is for a dry dish but if you want it moist and rich, you can add cream, sour-cream, coconut-milk or yoghurt to it. Then you might like to add a bit more spices, too. I served it with buckwheat and beetroot stalks. This time I cooked them in coconut-cream.


Broad beans
Paneer from 3 litres of milk
Cashew nuts
Olive oil, butter or ghee
Black pepper
Kala Namak
Fresh herbs

Boil the beans for a couple of minutes in salty water.
Heat up oil, butter or ghee on a skillet.
Add hing, black pepper and cayenne.
All paneer cubes.
When they are getting a bit colour, add cashews.
Add salt.
Fry until everything has a nice colour.
Add the beans.
Add kala namak.
Let it stand a few minutes before serving.
Garnish with fresh herbs.


Oil, butter or ghee

Wash and drain the buckwheat well.
Add it to the boiling water with salt.
Let it simmer until buckwheat is cracked and cooked.
Drain if necessary.
Heat up oil, butter or ghee.
Cut the ginger in thin and short julienne sticks.
Fry in oil, butter or ghee until golden.
Add the drained buckwheat.
Mix well.


  1. Beautiful! And I have never cooked beet stalks. Love your blog!

  2. Simplicity in its best and healthiest way! How peaceful and serene place you live in Lakshmi. Really hard to believe after living in the hustle and bustle of metro life..such wonderful places do exist. Beautiful clicks and what a lovely veggie treat it looks.

  3. I love buckwheat! Thank you for the recipe.

  4. I really like the way use Indian spices in all your cooking! especially hing :)
    Gorgeous photos as always :)

  5. Very hearty and healthy too. Hav never tried buckwheat though- is it like a lentil?

  6. Beautifully written! Beet stalks..i somehow have always thrown them away cos by the time i get to the beets I get from my CSA here, only the beets can be saved. I should learn to more efficiently use all the vegetables I buy!

  7. Lakshmi,

    what a simple ,beautiful and delicious recipe. You are very fortunate to have yourself surrounded with people who think beyond material comforts and live life simple and generous.

  8. Thank you for stopping by.

    Sukaina, technically speaking buckwheat is a non-grain.It is a gluten-free achene,similar in structure to sunflower seed. Buckwheat noodles have been eaten by people from Tibet and northern China for a long time, whereas flour has been used especially for blini, a kind of pancake,in Russia. Indians call it kuttu. It is utilized during the festival days when fasting from grains.

    Buckwheat has a strong taste. It is specific and takes a bit to get used to. I would say it is earthly and somewhat stuffy. Roasted groats that I've used here are more pleasant than the plain ones, both in taste and constitution. When cooked, buckwheat has a texture similar to bulgur.

    Studies have shown it to be quite healthy. However, a small number of people may be allergic to it.

    Manju, it is true that the stalks and leaves of beets are usually thrown away. However, they have a great taste and can be used just like spinach. We could utilize plants so much better if we wanted. For example, the entire broad bean plant can be eaten, not just the beans.

  9. AnonymousJuly 29, 2011

    Lovely post yet again. Sad about the cows though. Really wish that I stayed close to where you put up, then I could take my 22 month old daughter to the farm and show her around.
    The recipe seems simple and delightful.

  10. My grand ma thought gayatri mantra when we were kids, somehow in day to life i got them evaporated, now i want to start all over again. It is so nice to read about ur elderly family friend and their...poor their cow. THis dish is such simple and down to earth one but at its best!

  11. I discover something new, great recipes! I've to try it.
    You write beautifully, I can easy imagine to be there.

  12. Very nice! I am waiting for my broad beans to come up. My first year trying to grow them, and they have flowered! Now hoping I can actually have some beans to consume ^^

  13. What a beautiful dish. Love the simplicity and use of spice.

  14. Beautiful marriage of ingredients and inspiring photos as always Lakshmi :-)

  15. Love how simple recipes can get. Pretty pictures! I dont eat buckwheat except when fasting-you make me want too!