August 16, 2012

Kothavarangai (Cluster Beans) Kootu

When I was a kid, I still remember how elders in our family made it a point to visit the Holy Place Kasi atleast once in a life-time. One of the practices is that, when you take a dip in the Ganges at Kasi, you are supposed to renounce a vegetable (besides a fruit, a leaf etc) that you are very much attached to. Almost everyone in my family invariably gave up kothavarangai. It is not that they are very much attached towards kothavarangai, more so because they did not prefer this vegetable that much - could be because kothavarangai is not a very common vegetable (or) is a bitter variety of beans (or) cutting this vegetable is cumbersome (needs to be topped and tailed before cutting into small pieces).

Whatever it is, I am a big fan of kothavarangai kootu. Oh yes, I like bitter taste too! If cooked in a proper way, even vegetables with bitter taste can develop amazing flavors. When dealing with bitter vegetables, make it a point to cook them with atleast one of these ingredients - coconut,  tamarind, jaggery to cut off the bitterness.

Kothavarangai kootu can be served as a side along with plain white rice.

Kothavarangai (Cluster beans) - 3-4 cups (cut into small pieces)
Toor dal (raw) - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Tamarind water (diluted) - 3/4 cup 
Hing - 1/4 inch piece (or a tsp of hing powder)
Urad dal - 2 tbsp
Red chillies - 4-5 nos
Pepper corns - 1 tsp
Grated coconut - 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Broken urad dal - 1 tsp
Raw peanuts - a handful
Curry leaves - Few
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Pressure cook toor dal with a pinch of turmeric for upto 2-3 whistles until it can be completely mashed. Keep it aside.

Pressure cook kothavarangai (cluster beans) for 1 whistle so that the beans are cooked, but retains its shape.

Heat about a tbsp of oil in a pan, fry hing, urad dal, red chillies, pepper corns for 2-3 mins until urad dal changes to golden brown color. Let it cool and then grind 'em with very little water into a fine paste along with grated coconut in a mixer. Keep it aside.

Now, transfer the cooked beans into a pan (along with the water that is used for pressure cooking beans), add sambar powder & salt and cook it with tamarind water for about 2-3 mins in medium heat until the raw smell of sambar powder / tamarind is gone. Add the ground paste & dal and let it cook for 2 more mins. Add water and adjust the kootu to required consistency. Remove from heat.

Heat ghee in a small pan, splutter mustard seeds, fry broken urad dal & peanuts until golden brown along with curry leaves and mix it with the kootu.

Serve hot with rice and enjoy!

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