Beans thoran is a popular side dish from the Kerala region of India that's really quick and easy to make. It's essentially stir fried green beans with coconut, green chili and some simple spices. It's light, tasty and great with a range of other dishes.
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Whenever I am feeling like I need to change up how I cook with particular vegetables, I often take a look at a few different cuisines that make good use of that vegetable, or veg in general, for some inspiration. It has led me to many tasty dishes, like roasted eggplant with tahini and fasolakia, Greek green beans that have become favorites.
A few years ago I started exploring Keralan cuisine a bit more which has some fantastic vegetarian dishes, such as the pumpkin erissery and Kerala style sambar I have shared previously. You may typically combine a few dishes for a day to day meal, but also there is a larger feast that has a large selection.
What is a Keralan sadya?
A sadya is the Malayayam word for "banquet" and it's a traditional meal particularly for the Onam festival, but also sometimes for other special occasions. It's all vegetarian and you serve small amounts of different dishes on a banana leaf.
You can sometimes have as many as 20 or more different dishes, and you will always have some of a few different types. This includes rice, sambar, rasan (a kind of tomato curry/soup), chutneys and pappadams. Then you'll have a few vegetable curries and sides like avial, erisseries and thorans.
Of course, if you make a full sadya, it can take quite a while to prepare, but making just a couple dishes is pretty quick, especially easy dishes like this one.
What is a thoran?
Thorans are a group of vegetable side dishes from Kerala. They are essentially stir fried vegetables cooked with grated coconut, green chilies and some simple spices that typically include mustard seeds and curry leaves.
It's the kind of dish that's probably quite different from what you might typically think of when you imagine Indian food as there's no rich, creamy sauce nor a long list of spices. But it's also quick, easy and pretty versatile as a result.
You can make thorans with a range of vegetables with cabbage, beans, carrot and beet being some of the most popular. They are quick to cook, light and with a bit of spice, without it being overpowering.
I've drawn on a few recipes here, including this Kothiavanu recipe and this Food 52 recipe to try to keep with the traditional style as much as possible. Ideally, you want to use fresh grated coconut, but if that's not available, then frozen works well as an alternative (just defrost first).
Thorans are a popular dish to include in lunch in Kerala with rice and whatever other dishes you may have like sambar or rasan at least. But since it's relatively simple, you can also serve it in a less traditional way with other plainer mains as something a little different.
This beans thoran is easy to make with a nice mix of spice, coconut and vegetables with a slight crunch. It's nicely different from other ways you might cook beans, and also a healthy addition to a simple Keralan-style meal. Be sure to give it a try soon.
Try these other tasty vegetarian Indian dishes:
- Peshwari naan
- Paneer tikka (tasty vegetarian skewers with paneer cheese and vegetables)
- Cauliflower pakora
- Chana masala (chickpea curry)
- Plus get more Indian recipes in the archives.
- 1 cup green beans 150g
- 1 green chili
- 1 clove garlic small
- 1 shallot
- ½ tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 curry leaves approx
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 2 tablespoon water approx
- ¼ cup shredded fresh coconut 25g, or frozen defrosted
- Trim the beans and cut into roughly ¼ inch (1cm) pieces. Finely chop the chili and garlic. Cut the shallot into thin slices, cutting larger slices in half or smaller.
- Warm the coconut oil in a medium-small skillet/frying pan over a medium heat then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Cook for a minute to become fragrant.
- Add the shallot, cook a minute then add the garlic and chili and cook a minute more. Add the curry leaves and turmeric, stir to mix then add the chopped beans.
- Add the water, stir then cover the skillet/frying pan with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the mixture steam and cook around 3-5 minutes to soften the beans. They should still have a slight bite but be cooked.
- Remove the lid, stir in the coconut then cook a minute or two more before serving.
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