Bari Traditions–Bean Noodles
The making of the rajasthani bari is equivalent to mastering the art of slow living. At Shri Jasnath Asan (ashram) I have been fortunate during my stay to take part of the annual bari making. The bari is a delicious snack or sabji (vegetable dish). It looks like small spaghetti, but it’s made of beans and spices.
Sometimes we don’t need words to speak, but a genuine presence by sharing your time and dedication to a joint activity. The Hindi word for this, upasthiti, only begins to explain the importance of this concept in the Hindu culture. An expanded understanding of upasthiti might explain the constant staring in these communities. It’s learning, really, plus respectful admiration.
During the two days of the bari making, I have been blessed to meet four hard working women: Sau appointed “chief cook” for that occasion, assisted by Rampieri, Kabu, and Anupi. They speak few words of Hindi and none of English; I don’t speak any Marwari. Nevertheless, they find a way to pass on to me their know-how in the same way it is handed down in their villages- from generation to generation. I am feeling humble and follow all the instructions joyfully.
The traditional process of making bari:
- Moong and moth beans (same quantity of each), are soaked in the water an entire night. Then rubbed to separate the skin from the beans.
- Then the long process begins of getting rid of the skins. First, plunge the hands up and down in the water so the skins float and the bean sinks. Then scoop out the skins from the top of the water with a
- The cleaned beans are dried under the sun.
- The next step is the grinding the beans into a puree. The beans are processed in a (very heavy) cement mixing contraption with two round stones and a wooden hand, which is turned by two women. (You can use an electric food processor or blender.)
- Up to the sunny rooftop with the puree for the next step – adding spices. Sau mixes in red chilli powder, cumin, salt, and turmeric.
- To press them into noodles, the puree is poured into a halved coconut with three little holes drilled in the bottom. Then we press the puree through the holes and out comes little noodles a dupata (big scarf) lying under the Rajasthani sun on.
- 24 hours later, the noodles are collected.
- They can be eaten like a snack. But chef Sau (we call her ‘The General’ now) wants to treat me well so prepares a Bari ka sabji. (Bean-Noodle Curry).
- The bari noodles are fried in sesame oil over a medium flame. Then she adds hot water and spices, one teaspoon each: coriander powder, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, then methi thoroughly washed and chopped. Methi are green leaves from fenugreek seeds found in Rajasthani gardens.
The bari cooks in only 15 minutes, which seems ridiculous knowing that it took two days to process! The ashram family eats 20 kilos of bari for the 3 months of winter. The rest of their meals come from the vegetables garden, sesame oil from their fields, milk and ghee from the stables. And disciples will come with donations of lentils, rice, spices, and other edible oils. Their store room is never empty.
Dr. Estelle Fourat, Food Sociologist
email contact: [email protected]
@ pictures by Estelle Fourat
Shri Jasnath Asan is offering Yoga Lifestyle Workshops throughout the year where you can experience the magic of life in Rajasthan and learn to make healthy vegetarian meals from the local traditional cuisine. Yoga Lifestyle Workshop