Monday, 9 January 2012




     1)    Kothavara (guar beans or cluster beans) – 500 gm.

     2)    Onion – 100 gm.
     3)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 Nos.
     4)    Hot green chilies – 2 Nos.
     5)    Urad dal (split black gram lentils) – ½ teaspoon
     6)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     7)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig.
     8)    Grated coconut – ½ cup
     9)    Coconut oil – 1½ tablespoons
     10)     Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
     11)     Powdered salt – ¾ teaspoon

To Cook:

          Peel and finely chop the onion. Cut off the tips of the kothavara beans and use a small sharp knife to cut away thin long string like strips of fibre which often line the beans on either side. Wash and drain. Chop the beans to fine pieces. Pluck off the stems of the green chilies and cut diagonally to pieces. Cut the dry red chilies likewise.

          Set a thick cast iron wok on high heat. Pour in the coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish popping, tip in the urad dal and stir till it turns golden brown. Now throw in the chilies and the curry leaves. Stir once and chuck in the chopped onions. Stir till thee onions turn light brown.

          Now put in the chopped kothavara. Sprinkle the salt and the turmeric powder. Stir well and cover with a lid. Turn down the heat to minimum. Lift up the lid and stir occasionally to save the mixture from burning at the base and also to get it cooked uniformly.

          After 5 to 6 minutes, taste and see whether the vegetables are cooked. If cooked, tip in the grated coconut. Stir nicely and taste. Add more salt if required. Stir and switch off the heat. Serve kothavara toran hot with rice, porridge, cherupayar kanji or chappatis.


          Kothavara or cluster beans grow on 4 to 6 foot tall bushes easily in full sun without too much care and attention. The plants do not tolerate frost but  grow well both in hot as well as cooler regions and produce large clusters of 6 inch long narrow thin beans which are slightly bitter-sweet and superbly tasty. Tender beans can be harvested every third day and can be used to make delicious toran, upkari and curries. Kothavara is rich in iron, minerals and vitamins and contains plenty of dietary fibre.

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