Kwati: A Flavourful Nepali Soup

Kwati Life In Nepal

Every country has its own indigenous food which gives its cultural identity. Kwati, literally translates to hot (kwa), ti (soup) in Newari language (language spoken by Newars -historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley).Kwati is a mixed soup of nine types of sprouted beans. It is a traditional Nepalese dish eaten as a delicacy and for its health benefits and ritual significance. Kwati is known to be a healthy food. They say that it cures cold, cough and is one of the best foods for women in their maternity leave. Since it contains varieties of beans, this recipe is loaded with proteins and thus helps weak/sick people to regain their energy.

Nine varieties of beans are used to make kwati. The most commonly used ingredients are black gram, green gram, chickpea, field bean, soybean, field pea, garden pea, cowpea and rice bean. The beans are soaked in water for three to four days until they have sprouted. They are boiled with various spices to make a thick soup.The feast day coincides with Shravan Poornima of the month of Shravan in the Hindu lunisolar calendar which is celebrated as Janāi Purnimā (Raksha Bandhan), the festival of the sacred thread. The festival occurs in August.

Generally, beans and grains when sprouted are much easier to digest. Beans contain oligosaccharides called complex sugar which are hard to digest as  humans do not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase needed to properly break it down. Presoaking and sprouting beans increases the production of enzymes to help with better digestion as well as improve the bioavailability and absorption of different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc. Moreover, cooking beans (and in general) with spices such as cumin, fenugreek, thyme seed (jwano), asafetida (hing)  helps prevent bloatedness, gas, and ingestion. Aromatics like bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom adds a nice flavor and aroma to the dish. Fenugreek and asafetida are a digestive aid but are optional.

Ingredients

  1. 1.5 cup dry 9 bean mix (or en equal mix of different beans) -~ 5 cups soaked and sprouted
  2. 3 tablespoon canola oil
  3. 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  4. 2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  5. 1 large onion, chopped
  6. 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  7. 2 tablespoon minced ginger
  8. 2 cinnamon bark
  9. 3 bay leaf
  10. 3 cloves
  11. 6 cardamom, smashed
  12. 1 pinch asafetida (hing powder)
  13. salt, to taste
  14. 2 teaspoon turmeric
  15. 2 teaspoon cumin powder
  16. 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  17. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  18. 6 cups water
  19. 1 tablespoon garam masala
  20. 2 tablespoon ghee
  21. 1 tablespoon thyme seed (jwano, ajwain seed)
  22. chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directaions

  1. Rinse the 9 bean mix and pre-soak 3-4  days before cooking. Change water on the 2nd day and drain the water. Cover the soaked 9 bean mix with cheese-cloth or something with light ventilation on your kitchen countertop. Rinse them again on the 3rd day. Depending on the temperature, you may notice sprouts will start to germinate as early as day 3 in warmer temperature. In winter months, it might take additional day or two. Let the sprouting continue for additional day and rinse them again. It’ will be ready to use after that. You can refrigerate (or freeze) the sprouted beans in a closed container until ready to be used.
  2. When ready to cook kwati, turn on your instant pot to sauté (see note for pressure cooker version) and add oil. Add cumin seed, fenugreek seed to the pot and saute for a minute or two and add chopped onions. Stir the onion every few minutes and fry until reddish brown.
  3. To the pot, add sprouted 9 bean mix along with minced ginger and garlic. Gently cover the pot and cook for additional 5-7 minutes gently stirring the pot.
  4. Once the water evaporates, add aromatics such as bayleaf, cinnamon bark, cloves, cardamom, asafetida, and salt to taste. Continue stirring the pot and add turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, and chili powder. Add 6 cups of water and close the lid and make sure to seal.
  5. Turn the instant pot setting to manual for 10 minutes. When cooked, let it naturally release the pressure, which takes another 15-18 minutes. Open the lid and stir everything.
  6. Add garam masala and adjust the salt and other seasonings as needed and close the lid again.
  7. In a small pan, heat ghee (or oil if vegan or dairy-free), and fry thyme seed until fragrant and slightly brown. Pour the hot ghee-thyme mixture on kwati and mix everything.
  8. Stir the kwati and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve it hot.

Notes

  1. If using a pressure cooker, start by heating the oil over medium flame and fry cumin seed, fenugreek seed, then add chopped onions.
  2. Follow the same directions 1-4.
  3. Close the lid of pressure cooker and let the cooker whistle 3 times, then turn off the heat.
  4. Let the pressure cooker release it’s pressure naturally and follow the same directions 6-9.

By : Shreya Kandel

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