Lablab purpureus, commonly known to us as seim and to others as hyacinth bean, was a main breakfast dish that my mom gave us to take to school. We ate this once, sometimes twice per week. Mom always made curry seim and aloo and stuffed it in a 1/4 of a sada roti, wrapped it in paper towel and then in foil to stay warm. Oh how I disliked seim! There was a strong scent that lingered on my fingers or clothes whenever I came into contact with fresh seim. The scent is similar to that of the curry leaves or karipillay leaves (it’s a strong stench). I still ate it although I disliked it (I never complained about what mom prepared for breakfast).
Seim grows on vines, so it easily climbs walls and makes its way over to the neighbour’s yard. I loved picking seim with Ma (maternal grandmother) when I was a child, but the worst part was getting cut by the vines. My dad still has lots of seim vines, and when I go back home, I watch him pick it and clean it (he never wants me to do work on vacation). The seim we get back home is light green or purple in colour, and it’s shorter than the one I am using in today’s recipe. I’m making this vegetarian today, but saltfish or any salted meats will make a great addition.
2 lbs of seim
2 teaspoons of cooking oil
1 small onion, diced
6-10 cloves of garlic, minced
1 hot pepper
3 pimento peppers
A few curry/karipillay leaves
2 teaspoons of your favourite curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon roasted ground geera
1/2 teaspoon black amchar massala
3-5 bandhania/shadon beni/culantro leaves, chopped
3 large aloo/potatoes or a few small ones
Step 1: Wash seim, cut stems and tails, and pull the fibrous string off from both sides. Cut in halves and wash again.
Step 2: Time to chunkay de pot! *chunkay- to saute aromatics and spices in hot oil*
Add oil to a pot on medium high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the chopped onion in and let that cook for about 1 minute, until it looks translucent. Then, add the garlic, hot pepper, pimento peppers, curry/karipillay leaves, and bandhania/shadon beni. After it sautes for a minute, lower your heat to medium low.
Now, add your spices (curry, roasted ground geera, turmeric and black amchar massala). Let the spices parch (“patch”) or toast for about 2 minutes to extract those oils, and to properly cook the curry mixture.
After the toasting is finished, add about 1/4 cup of water to cook the curry even further. The end result should look like a grainy paste. Place the heat on medium-high again.
Step 3: Add the freshly cleaned and cut seim to the curry paste. Mix it well to coat the seim with that thick curry sauce. Let it fry for about 2 minutes to absorb the rich flavour of the curry and spices.
After 2 minutes, add 2 cups of hot or boiling water to the seim.
Now add the aloo or potatoes in, and add about 1 teaspoon of salt (you can always add more later).
Cover the pot and let the seim and aloo or potatoes cook until nice and tender (for about 15 minutes).
After it steams for 15 minutes, raise the cover and let it reduce with the amount of sauce or gravy you want. The potatoes wil be nice and soft, and the seim will be tender. Usually 5-8 minutes is sufficient for the sauce to reduce with the lid off.
Step 3: Once it’s finished cooking, taste for salt and add the chopped shadon beni or bandhania.
Serve with sada roti or rice and dhal!
If you replicate this recipe, tag me in your photos on Instagram @tasteoftrinbago or Facebook at Taste of Trinbago, or you can email me at email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!
With love and a spoonful of Trini,