Sem ka chokha is not very common in the thalis people serve to guests now a days even in Banaras or surrounding parts of the state. The koftas and the palak paneer and matar paneer is preferred over chokha in vegetarian thalis for several reasons.
One, the hosts want to serve good looking food to their guests and two, they are never sure whether the guests would like a simple dish that is devoid of spices, cream and even oil, that too made with a green vegetable.
But I have a special knack of serving such food to people and making them say they liked it. Recently when I made this sem ka chokha at a gathering of people from 3 different Indian states I was a little doubtful about the raw mustard oil used liberally in this chokha.
After I got to hear how good the chokha was, I asked whether they could taste mustard oil in it or not. I was not surprised when the answer was negative for this sem ka chokha as well as another salad that I had made. It is not about the pungency of mustard or any other oil but the overall balance of flavours in the dish that speaks for itself. Such a balance of flavours is a treat to achieve in such a simple recipe.
Sem ka chokha is made using the fleshy broad beans usually but it tastes great with any beans you have with you. Just make sure you adjust the seasoning and add a little potato to the chokha if the sem is not of the fleshy variety.
Here I used the thin skinned variety that is known for being a little fibrous.
Nothing that a few pieces of potatoes can't tackle. The potatoes actually bring a desired creaminess to the sem ka chokha and helps balance the flavours too.
500 gm sem, strings removed and chopped finely
100 gm potatoes, peeled and cubed
1.5 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced hot green chilies
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tsp lime juice (if required)
2 tbsp mustard oil
1/4 cup water
Add the chopped sem, cubed potatoes, salt and water in a pressure cooker and cook under pressure for 6-8 minutes (after the first whistle). Let the pressure release on its own.
Once the pressure drops, open the lid and mash the vegetables roughly with the help of a wooden spatula. Add the minced garlic and green chilies, the coriander leaves and mustard oil and mix well.
Add lime juice if required.
Empty the mash in a serving bowl and garnish with a few coriander springs.
Serve warm or cold.
The sem ka chokha pairs well with dal chawal meals as well as roti dal meals. You might like to roll up a roti with this and make it a quick meal.
Use any beans that you like but make sure you add potatoes if the beans are not too smooth after boiling. I like a generous drizzle of mustard oil in chokha so I might keep a bottle of mustard oil on the table but feel free to balance it according to your own taste.
Sooran ka chokha, Baingan ka chokha and Gooler ka chokha are similar dishes with minor variations. Each one of them has it's own identity and represents the seasonal variation of the traditional everyday meals in eastern part of India. In other eastern states the chokha is known as sheddho or pitika and the taste may vary a bit but the dish remains as simple and elemental in it's nature.
Try this sem ka chokha and let me know if you like it.