Fish Stew With Chilli Leaves & Winged Beans

Fish stew with chilli leaves & winged beans
Fish stew with chilli leaves & winged beans

If you happen to come by our house you will notice many leaves missing from my chilli plants. The reason is that I have been adding them to stews. Like most leafy greens, they cook fast and the taste is somewhat like spinach but with just a hint of mild bitterness. In our cuisine, chilli leaves has always been added to dishes that combine two to three kinds of vegetables and some leafy greens. The dark green leaves in the picture above are chilli leaves from a few plants that I am growing.
In June this year we had gone to visit friends at a tea garden in the northern part of our state. We bought many kinds of vegetables from the local market there. Among these were round chillies that were quite hot. I scattered some of the seeds and now some are doing well. The best of the lot has three chillies and many buds on the plant. Unlike the usual ripening process these are turning shades of purple from green. I think they will turn red very soon.

Fish stew with chilli leaves& winged beans
The red ones that were bought in the market (in June) and my plant bearing fruit.

Whereas chillies are hot, the leaves are said to have a cooling effect. They are not used in large quantities like other greens but a small bunch is enough for a dish that will serve 3-4 people. According to Wiki, the leaves of every species of capsicum are edible. Though almost all other Solanaceous crops have toxins on their leaves, chilli peppers do not. Throughout Asia, the leaves are used in cooking. Today’s dish is a simple stew that combines fish, carrots, tomatoes, winged beans and chilli leaves.

Fish stew with chilli leaves & winged beans
Today’s harvest of winged beans

3 (shallow) fried fish pieces (I used a snakehead variety locally known as sol)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 green chillies, scored lengthwise
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1″ piece of ginger, diced
1 ripe tomato, sliced
6 winged beans (or French/Yard long beans)
1 carrot
1 potato, diced (I used a boiled one that I had sitting in the fridge) 
1 bunch chilli leaves, washed and the stalks removed
Salt to taste
2 tbs vegetable oil

Top and tail the beans and cut them into1″ pieces.
Scrape the skin off the carrot and cut it lengthwise. Then chop it the same length as the beans.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions till they turn pale in colour.
Add the chillies, ginger and garlic.
Throw in the beans, carrots and the potatoes. Cook for five minutes then add about 2 cups of water.
Let the stew simmer for about 15 minutes. Then add the fish pieces and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the chilli leaves and wait till they wilt.
Remove from the stove and add fresh chopped herbs if you like.
Optional: A small amount of toasted and ground cumin seeds can be added to this stew.
The yellowish colour on the fish comes from a dash of turmeric (and salt) added to the pieces before they were fried.

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