My Dad is quite a gardener. From squash to okra to eggplant, he has overseen a successful garden for years (except for the times the wild rabbits ate everything). One less common item he grows is called sheem or in English, hyacinth beans. These beans look like a rounder, plumper version of snow peas.
One of the most common ways to make sheem in West Bengal, India, where my family hails from is with shorsh (mustard). You can make your own version by combining freshly crushed mustard seeds, chili, salt, garlic and ready made mustard. Be careful though as you can make it very, very bitter. If you can’t find this hyacinth beans, snow peas or sugar snap peas also work. If you live in an area with a South Asian community, kasundi or pre-made mustard sauce can be purchased.
1/2 pd sheem beans, chopped bite size
1 T mild mustard (be careful to match the mustard paste with your taste)
1/2 t mustard seeds
1 t garlic powder
1 t turmeric
1 t black cumin (kalonji)
chili powder to taste.
salt to taste
Cut the inner seam of the bean as well as the ends off, then chop to bite size. Heat a pan to medium with a little oil. Add black cumin to pan and allow to sputter for a minute, then follow with sheem beans, tumeric and cover. In the mean time combine mustard, mustard seeds, garlic, chili powder and salt into a mortar and pestle and pound until a paste forms. (Start with only a small amount, if needed add more. Water and salt can help dilute if it becomes to strong). Mix sauce in well with beans. If necessary add water to pan. Covered, it should cook in about 15 minutes.