Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kothavarakkai (cluster beans) thoran

I havent seen or eaten kothavarakkai (cluster beans, I believe they're called) in a very long time. Thoran, as I understand it, is a Malayalam word that usually describes a dry vegetable preparation with coconut... and if I'm wrong, please my Mallu friends, correct me!

This recipe is dead simple and is the perfect way to eat this thin, slightly angular green bean that tastes ever so slightly bitter. I even like the fact that they make little squares when they're chopped, because they beans are flat rather than round.

I cooked the kothavarakkai with a little water, for 7 minutes in the microwave. It can also be made into
usili but I decided to go with the coconut this time - both because I had a little bit of the latter left and because I wanted a change from the usual. And one final because: I've never made it before.

This thoran is perfect with rice and sambar/rasam.

Recipe for:
Kothavarakkai thoran


250gm (1/4 kg) kothavarakkai, chopped
3 tbsp grated coconut
3-4 fresh green chillies
1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds

For tempering:

1 tsp oil
2 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
a few curry leaves
Pinch of asafoetida powder (optional)


1. Cook the kothavarakkai in the microwave with a little water for 7-8 minutes. Drain off any remaining water when cool. Reserve.

2. Grind the coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds without adding water,

making a coarse paste.

3. In a pan, heat the oil and add the tempering items. Once the urad dal is a light golden brown, add the ground coconut paste and stir fry for a minute or two to get rid of excess moisture.

4. Then add the cooked kothavarakkai and mix well, adding salt to taste.

Stir-fry for a minute until well mixed. Serve hot with rice and sambar/rasam.


Anonymous said...

Hello Shyamala,

I really enjoy your blog. I am originally from Kerala and recently I happened to develop an interest in cooking / recipes from other parts of India. Anyways, one day I stumbled upon your blog and I am really glad I did…. I made a lot of stuff based on your guidance. Today I happened to see your recipe for Kothavarakkai (cluster beans) thoran. This recipe might be correct in some parts of kerala. However, I thought of letting you know the way my family makes thoran.


Any vegetable, finely chopped
grated coconut
fresh green chillies
grated ginger
a few curry leaves

For tempering:

1 tsp oil
2 tsp urad dal
2 tsp chana dal [optional]
1 tsp mustard seeds


My mom does not pre-cook the vegetables. However, it’s somewhat optional.
Coarsely grind coconut, green chillies and ginger. [sometimes I do not grind this]
Mix the coconut paste, salt and curry leaves with the vegetable.
Once the mustard seeds start popping and dals are slightly brown, reduce heat and add the vegetable and mix it properly. Cover it and cook at low heat. Stir in between. My mom will not add any water… I add a little water since I am afraid whether I will burn the vegetable.

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie

Thanks for giving me your family's authentic recipe for thoran! :)

Anonymous said...

Shammi,you nailed it!!Your definition is very correct. The only thing I do different is that we don't add dals while tempering- mustard seeds and curry leaves. Looks delicious!!

Anonymous said...

awesome pic, the pic of the thoran with rice...

Anonymous said...

yumm... Haven't had kothavarakkai in a long time as well.

but...but...what's this? a coconut recipe on your blog??? how so?


Anonymous said...

Gini, Anon: Thanks!

Saffon: Ok, dont rub it in - I know I'm being contrary! :) I still maintain that I dont like chunks of coconut in anything or coconut in sweets and chocolate :) That's my new line now.

jayakarthik said...

well recipe is too simple
i dont like adding coconut usually
but i guess once in a while wont hurt
will try ur simple recipe though
thanks for sharing the recipe