Verity Player’s Fiendish Bean-Dish
“Oh, brilliant! What shall we bring?”
Verity and her husband Sacha—and any of their family friends—will never have a host cook all alone.
This is the dish they brought round to the Meiers’ for the first ‘do’ at theirs of that fateful new year: the year when she would twice travel to the USA—the ‘Evening Lands’. There she would risk her life for a simple letter written, as it turned out, during the head-splitting hangover after this particular soirée…
Arash and Farrukh had arrived in Britain, the day after New Year’s, without anywhere to stay. Within three days, they’d launched themselves into buying a house together.
Ruth said it might be fun for them all to meet up.
By nine in the evening noisy conversation criss-crossed the Meiers’ generous dining table. Dishes of gefiltefish, couscous salad and stuffed vine leaves passed from hand to hand, along with news and wine.
Verity sat next to the two new arrivals.
She picked up an open bottle of red to refill her glass, offering it to her neighbours first.
Each declined with a polite wave of the hand.
Neither said anything.
“Oh, right. Sorry. Of course.”
Two blokes living together.
Sometimes people made even less sense than usual.
She poured herself a glass and took a swig.
“Ruth said you were house-hunting.”
She’d start with the easy question.
“Where’re you going to buy?”
“What, near the racecourse?”
“Would you go to the Races? Are you allowed to bet?”
“Gambling is haram. But for horses, one can make an arrangement with the organisers—‘make a prediction’ and win, if one is correct. There are bureaux for this, in our country. We’ve not yet found a Predictions Bureau here, though.”
Arash smiled. “There’s a business opportunity for someone.”
“My cousin would have been good at that.”
“Would have?” She picked up her glass. “Does he…do something else now?”
No! Her face burned—Heck, it must match the colour of the wine in her glass. Would have. That must mean he was dead, been killed somewhere.
The whole table went quiet.
Everyone turned to her. Was she supposed to ask?
“He was arrested. In Rawalpindi, the night before he was due to fly to Europe. Terrorism. No one has heard from him since.”
“What’s…what’s his name?”
Perhaps Amnesty had taken up his case? Perhaps she’d see him in next month’s magazine when it arrived at the house. She should make sure to find it, and write. She’d already made that New Year’s resolution to write to the Director of the C.I.A. about those camps…
The formal name, elaborate and winding, soon left her consciousness. She didn’t dare ask, ‘what was that again?’
Ruth rescued her. “So, about the house?”
Arash explained the very thing she’d wanted to know to start with—how a Sharia mortgage worked. A mortgage without usury.
She hoped she hadn’t drunk too much to be able to remember the details in the morning.
Verity pressed the hot flannel against her forehead. If she pressed hard enough, perhaps the splinters of ice might melt—not dig into the joints in her skull. She tried not to groan. Sacha stirred. Damn, she’d not wanted to wake him.
“I made an idiot of myself at the Meiers’, love. Sorry…”
“I did tell you. I did pour some water out for you.”
“And you asked so many questions. I hope we haven’t upset the Meiers.”
He turned over, away from her, but the pain put her past the point of caring.
She had to write that letter in the morning.
It needn’t be a long one…
But to more practical matters. The dish, being Vegan, is (or at least, can be considered) also both kosher and halal. And you never know when that might come in useful.
- 2 small potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- Half a celeriac, or 4 sticks celery
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- About 1/2 cubic inch ginger
- 2 red onions
- Fistful of fresh mint leaves
- 1 level teaspoon crushed chillies (turmeric will also work, if people prefer a milder dish)
- 1 tin (about 400g) tomatoes
- 1 tin (about 250g once drained) cooked chick-peas or any white beans such as cannellini, pinto…
- 1 mug (about 300g) of veggie stock
- Pinch saffron threads
- Large frying pan
- Cooking spoons
- Deep dish or similar, to set vegetables aside in
- Only one cooking ring needed
- About 50 minutes of time, of which 20 are actually busy
- Dice the vegetables.
- Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger (no need to peel the ginger).
- Finely chop the fresh mint.
- Make up the stock and drop the saffron threads in.
- Tip half the sunflower oil into the frying pan and gently fry the vegetables until they begin to soften. If the frying pan has a lid that’s great, but still make sure the veggies don’t stick to the bottom. I don’t know why but the potatoes are always the worst for this.
- Take the fried veggies out and set them aside.
- Top up the oil in the pan, and heat gently.
- Fry the garlic and ginger.
- Add the onions, mint and chilli, and fry on low heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Tip in the tin of tomatoes, stir them in, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the drained beans, stir in, then add the fried veggies and the stock.
- Simmer for at least half an hour.
Fiendish bean-dish can be adapted for summer by changing to summer vegetables. Celery rather than celeriac, and red peppers instead of parsnips, for example. It can even be served cold, if the weather merits it.
The moon landings influenced the young pattern’s self-awareness mechanisms, igniting lifelong interest in Physics, and in humanity’s plight on Earth.
C L Spillard’s wave-pattern enjoys proximity to a second pattern originating in St Petersburg (Russia), and these two have since generated two younger ones who are now diffusing over the planet stuffing themselves with knowledge as if it were going out of fashion.
She claims responsibility for a raft of published short stories, the fantasy ‘The Price of Time’, and its newly-released sequel ‘The Evening Lands’.
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