avarekaiAs November comes to an end, the taste buds of the Original Bangalorean start to itch. There is a nip in the air and a heavy odour starts to permeate everywhere. To some it is a perfume and to some, a not so pleasant smell. By December, the Bangalorean starts haunting Basavangudi and Malleswaram markets. Because it is now “Avarekai” time.
Avarekai- that flat, green, oval nugget of delight which goes by many names elsewhere. Butter beans, hyacinth beans, fava beans, saem, vaal, mochakai…. even called the papaya bean and the poor man’s bean in Australia. Yet where else but in good old Bengaluru, would you find such a passion for it bordering on the obsession?
Avarekai Melas, Avarekai Pareeshe or markets are set up specially during this season. Piles and piles, baskets and baskets of the bean are to be found on every street corner. The Avarekai is eaten in every form possible. The Bangalorean gorges on it morning to night. Beginning with breakfast – in his upma, dosas, his rotis, curries, in combination with different vegetables, in munchies, even in sweets as holiges and halwas. The non-vegetarian adds it to his mutton curries and fries. It helps that the bean has a particular taste and smell of its own. In fact, cook it in a stir-fry with ginger-garlic pastes and you will find that it has a meaty flavor by itself.
No wonder, December-January used to be a special time in Bangalore. Pass by most residential areas  and you would find Avarekai peels strewn on the street. Folklore has it that the beans do not get digested properly until the peels have been thoroughly trampled on by passersby. It is a well-known fact that the bean causes flatulence. Ingesting it in such copious quantities, one needs all the digestive help one can get.
That is, until a few years ago. With all the other changes in Bangalore, the seasons too have changed. And, one can find avarekai any time of the year. Just visit your local vegetable shop and you will find the shelled and peeled beans in packets, sitting on the counter. There are some street corners in Bangalore, where one can find a few women seated before large baskets of avarekai throughout the year. Fingers deftly peeling off the seed coat, these women chat casually on their cell phones. They sit under huge umbrellas advertising the local radio station.  A sale is conducted without a break in their hands or conversation. Surely, it seems to rob the avarekai of some of its charisma.
Till the day I chanced upon the Lilva pulao. And realized that even the Gujarati celebrates the Avarekai. Fresh from the plant into the pot. Tender green beans, fresh green herbs, even the garlic used is of the tender, green variety. All turned into a dish bursting with freshness and flavor. Take a bite, and you will be transported back to a time when the Avarekai was still a magic bean.