This traditional stew from Arunachal Pradesh cuisine, Oying Vegetable Stew is simple, easy to make and delicious. There are just a handful of ingredients and no oil or spices are used. What makes the dish tasty is the freshness of the boiled vegetables and the flavours of the chilli and ginger. It healthy too, as well as vegan and gluten free.
This month’s theme from the food blogger group, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge was the cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh. My partner for the month, Priya Sateesh, gave me the names of 2 ingredients as the secret ingredients – potatoes and cabbage. The plan was that each of us makes an item using the secret ingredients and in line with the theme, and posts it on the group. The other members try to guess the secret ingredients!
Priya Sateesh, who as I said earlier, was my partner for October, blogs at Priya’s Menu. Do check out her blog and the host of recipes she has posted – from delicious Soups and Salads to kuzhambu varieties, rasams, stir fries, risottos and baked goodies and interesting curries and fried crab and prawns, to mention just a few of the collection on Priya’s Menu! The ingredients I gave her were Carrots and Ginger, and here is the link to the delicious kharzi she prepared: Kharzi: Arunachal Pradesh Cuisine
It’s a lot of fun, planning the recipe and posting on the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge Group, as well as trying to guess the ingredients used by the other members.This month however I was totally embarrassed to see how little I knew about the cuisines of my own Country and its North Eastern States. I can make a fairly authentic pasta from scratch. Even a pizza, and all kinds of soups, salads, even pestos and sauces. But I didn’t know anything at all about what is the normal food of Arunachal Pradesh! There are very few recipes from Arunachal online, and the authenticity of some of these is not clear. I am going to remedy my ignorance by reading up and trying out as many items as possible from the other states in the country that I am not too familiar with.
To come back to this recipe for Oying Vegetable Stew. Determined to make it as authentic as possible, I bought The Essential North-East Cookbook by Hoihnu Hauzel. The recipes for each of the North Eastern States have been written in simple straightforward language, easy to follow. The introduction to the cuisine of each state explains the cooking methods and the ingredients specific to each State.
The book as well as some of the articles I found online from people familiar with the cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh explained that very little oil is used in making the Oying Vegetable Stew or the other dishes that form part of the food of the people of Arunachal. Spices are rarely used. Chillies and ginger are customary ingredients. Boiling and stewing are the common processes while cooking. The herbs used are local ones for which I could not find names or descriptions in the online articles that I read. During the cooking process, ginger is usually added just after removing the pan from the stove, and the pan is kept covered for a few minutes to allow the flavours to soak in before serving.
I have tried to make the Oying Vegetable Stew from Arunachal Pradesh just as the recipe in the Essential North-East Cookbook described it. Two changes I made were to use fresh ginger pieces instead of ginger paste, and to add some lettuce greens instead of the mustard greens in the ingredients list, as I did not have mustard greens and had read elsewhere that lettuce is one of the vegetable greens used in Arunachali cooking. I have also made some modifications to the volume of ingredients, but that should not matter as this is a simple stew of boiled vegetables and proportions are not of significance.
I used purple beans instead of the regular green french beans, again because that’s what I had at home. The beans are a gorgeous purple and full of antioxidants. Sadly, they loose colour and become a dull green after cooking. I buy my zero pesticide and non GMO veggies such as the purple beans, from First Agro Farms of Talakkad, Mysore, through their distributing arm, Sakura Fresh.
Some of the other recipes I have posted for the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge on this blog: