Spend an hour or two in the company of Jenny Chandler, bean and pulse enthusiast, chef and writer and you’ll be talking and thinking abut the humble bean more than you ever imagined.
2016 is the United Nations Year of the Pulse and food writer Jenny is a UN FAO Ambassador for The Year of The Pulses. That’s a lot of responsibility for an ingredient that has fallen out of favour across western cuisines. Packed with protein, pulses are know as the meat of the poor in developing countries and as a vegetarian staple elsewhere.
Yes beans are delicious on their own, but mostly need a little pinch of something to bring out their full flavour. So you’ll be adding huge bunches of fresh parsley bought from markets and farmers’ market such as London’s Borough market as we discovered, when a group of food writers and bloggers gathered to gain an insight into the world of pluses. Our cooking demo was led by Jenny was keen to dismiss many of the myths that have grown up around preparing and eating beans, not least their are ways of reducing your gassy emissions (adding cumin, while cooks in Japan believe seaweed helps!). Dispelling that myth cleared the air for the next hour or so of the demo, as Jenny podded, shelled and stirred her away whilst reminding us just how important a crop pulses are around the world.
Igniting a love of beans, you’ll have to clear out a shelf in the larder for tins, bags and packets of red beans, green lentils; British grown Fava beans and fresh spices along with cumin and coriander coriander seeds.
Want to know more about this amazing range of ingredients, then head to Borough Market in London where Jenny wiill be cooking every Thursday lunchtime throughout November from 12.30 – 2pm. To catch Jenny cooking live at Borough Market’s demo kitchen click www.boroughmarket.org.uk for dates and times. Spread over four weeks, Jenny will cover The Americas – think Chilli con Carne (apparently this student staple originates from the USA … yes really), before moving onto Africa for week two and recipes including West African peanut soup while dishing out cooking tips including batch cooking for the freezer. In the third demo, Jenny will share recipes sourced from Asia including the extremely versatile dal from the Indian sub-continent before finally landing in Europe and a classic Greek dish of Fava beans with seared squid – described as a ‘classic Cretan split pea purée with a squid and caper salad’.
Oh, and another thing … Jenny pointed out that refried beans aren’t actually fried twice. They boiled black beans, fried once mashed and popularly served with steak or quesadillas (tortillas).
While the UN has designated 2016 the Year of the Pulse, I have a feeling that the popularity of the humble bean will continue to increase as chefs learn about its versatility, and home chefs appreciate how they offer huge amounts of cheap, nutritious and tasty protein to hungry families.
Want to know more, dip into these books …
Pulse, by Jenny Chandler
Beans, A History by Ken Albala
And tweet your pulse and bean adventures @lovepulses
COOKING DEMOS AT LONDON’S BOROUGH MARKET
Jenny will be sharing her knowledge of beans and pulses in a series of cooking demos at the London’s Borough Market. She’ll be appearing at these times, from 12.30pm – 2pm:
Thursday, November 3rd – The Americas
The U.S.A – ‘Ultimate Chilli Con Carne’
Mexico – ‘Refried Beans’
Peru – Butter Bean, Quinoa and Avocado Salad
Thursday 10th November – Africa
Egypt, Sudan and The Middle East – Fuls Medames
Morocco – Spiced Lentil Soup
West Africa – Peanut Soup
Thursday 17th November – Asia
Afghanistan – Mung Bean and Vegetable Stew
India – Chana Chaat
Indian Sub-Continent – Dal
Thursday 24th November – Europe
France – Wild Mushroom and Lentil Soup
Spain – Chickpeas with Prawns
Greece – Fava with Seared Squid
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