Stephen Neil Gershom
Thousands throng the food stalls and shops, hustling and bustling as they try to order a dish or get the dish they had ordered. Jalebi, Jamun, Soan Papdi, Dosa, Idli, Vada, Kosu Bale, Payasa etc being some of the dishes served. Well, an entire street lined with shops serving delectable food, thronged by thousands, sounds typical of a Food Street right? Well, no! Here though, it is different. The main ingredient used in all the dishes mentioned and many more dishes is the Hyacinth Bean, making the whole experience unique.
Avarebele, more popularly known as Avarekalu in Kannada and less known as the Hyacinth Bean, is a very popular delicacy across households in rural karnataka and some households in urban areas. Historically originating from Africa, The Hyacinth bean was brought to India between 1500 and 1600 BC by traders and is known to be one of the most ancient crops among cultivated plants.
Avarebele might not be very well known all across India and hence the whole hullabaloo might be amusing to most Indians, and there is a reason for it. In India, the Hyacinth Bean is Cultivated only in the peninsular region, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharasthra being the only states cultivating the crop with Karnataka being the largest producer as 90 Percentage of the Hyacinth bean produce in India is grown in Karnataka alone, which probably is also why Kannadigas love this dish so much. Just the mention of the words Avarekalu Saaru(Curry) and white rice or ragi mudde (Cooked Ragi dough shaped like a ball) with pure ghee smothered over it’, is enough to get a Kannadiga drooling.
With avarekalu though, it just is not about the taste. According to Vitaminsestore.com, a vitamins guide website, the Hyacinth Bean posesses antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, tonic, aphrodisiac, hypocholesterolemic, galactagogue, and antispasmodic properties which helps it in enhancing brain and cardiovascular health and also helps in preventing cancer and insomnia among many other health benefits.
The Avare Bele Mela, an annual event is on till the 24th of January for you to savour all kinds of dishes, right from snacks and starters through the main course and till dessert, all made from the winter special – Avare Bele/Hyacinth Bean. For those who love eating only home-cooked food, the Avare Bele Mela is not only about the ready to eat dishes served by the restaurants and food stalls here. The organisers of the event, Sri Vasavi Condiments have brought in over 200 farmers from nearby villages to participate in the Mela and sell their farm-fresh Avarekalu.