March 20, 2009

Avarakkai Poduthuval/ Thoran (Green Hyacinth Beans with Coconut)

This is one more way of cooking certain vegetables representative in our traditional Palakkad Iyer style. I make some sort of "poduthuval" or the other for lunch on most days. A "poduthuval" (or "thoran" as it is known in Malayalam) is a dry vegetable preparation to which a mixture of crushed coconut and green chillies is usually added after the vegetable has been cooked. This is not strictly the "thoran" as it is known in Kerala, in which onions are sometimes addeed.

I read somewhere that the name "poduthuval" comes from "podi" (meaning powder, of the spicy kind) and "thuval" (meaning to sprinkle) and that is the origin of this dish. There is, however, no spice or lentil powder in this type of preparation, though it is possible that a plentiful supply of coconuts in Kerala could have resulted in the adaptation of the original version to this one.

Avarakkai Poduthuval

This poduthuval can also be made without the final coconut-green chilli addition, if you do not like coconut or want to avoid using it. If that is so, then just slit a couple of green chillies lengthwise and add it along with the beans while cooking.

However, a poduthuval (or thoran) is just not the same without the coconut. Certain vegetables, especially hyacinth beans (avarakkai) and cluster beans (kothavarakkai), which have a faintly bitter or strong taste when cooked, need the coconut addition.

Avarakkai (Green Hyacinth Beans)

In this post I have made my poduthuval with "Avarakkai" or Hyacinth beans (also known as Lablab beans). There are different varieties of Hyacinth beans and the one commonly found in our markets are green or very deep green. They're also known as "Sem" in Hindi and "Vaalpapdi" here, in Goa.

Cabbage Beans Poduthuval (without coconut)

Some other vegetables which taste good as poduthuval include French beans, yard long beans (payar/ achingya), cabbage, carrots, banana stem (vazhai thandu), banana flower (vazhaipoo), raw plaintain skin (vazhai tholi), raw jackfruit (chakkai), bread fruit (idichakkai), amaranth leaves (keerai).
Certain vegetable combinations like cabbage and French beans, carrots and French beans, cabbage and carrots also lend themselves well to making poduthuval.


1/4 kg avarakkai (green hyacinth beans)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

salt to taste

2 tbsp fresh grated coconut

2 green chillies

For tempering:

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil (or sunflower oil)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 1/2 tsp black gram lentils (urad dal)

1 sprig curry leaves


Wash the beans, and string them. Trim off both ends of each bean and then finely chop the beans. If there any beans which are a bit mature, shell them and discard the pods.
If you are using the microwave to cook your vegetables, like I do, then cook the beans till they're done. And then proceed as described below*.

In a pan, heat the oil (coconut oil gives an authentic flavour and taste) and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the black gram lentils and sauté till they brown. Now add the curry leaves, stir once and add the beans. Stir fry the beans for a couple of minutes, then add half a cup of water. Add the salt and turmeric powder and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow the beans to cook till done and the water has evaporated completely.

*If you microwaved your beans, then add the beans where mentioned above. Just don't add the water for cooking. Sprinkle a handful of water, add the turmeric powder and salt and make sure the beans are well coated and seasoned and sauté till the little water there was has evaporated completely.

Take the cooked beans off the heat.
Now run the grated coconut and the green chillies in the jar of your mixer grinder, a couple of times, without adding any water. You will have crushed mixture of the coconut and chillies, with flecks of the green chillies showing. Do not grind to a paste.
This crushing releases the flavours/ juice in the coconut and the chillies. Add this to the beans and stir well to mix.

Serve warm with rice, a vegetable in gravy preparation like sambhar, rasam or pulissery.


Happy cook said...

I love love thoran like these and yours look yumm.
It is a pity my hubby and daughter don't like it.
See one is missing out a lot of the rest of the family don't like a particular veg or a dish.

soma said...

I always knew it as thoran. This is probably the most frequently cooked bean recipe in my home. the kids just love the green & not so mushy overcooked texture. Yours look really fresh like a nice crunchy salad. that's what i like about this recipe. i did't know u could do this with sem tho'.

Asha said...

In 11 yrs since we moved to US, I got Avarekai once in Atlanta Indian store, I was so happy!! :D

I love fresh Avarekai, Thoran looks so delicious. Lucky girl, enjoy! :)

Sharmila said...

I often make cabbage this way ... always love the combination of freshly grated coconut with sauteed and slightly crunchy fresh greens. Now I'll try with these beans. :-)

Superchef said...

love avarakkai, but, sadly i havent seen it much around here!! the thoran looks delicious!

A_and_N said...

Oh I have never cooked with these. My dad hated these beans, so, I guess.

@ Asha: Come more often to Atlanta ;)

Cham said...

The bean, cabbage is made this way. But not the avarakai. Looks simply tasty!

Anonymous said...

Excellent looking thoran. I like the tip about how to cook beans in the microwave. I am going to follow this tip for sure. Thanks so much.


Varsha Vipins said...

I have never tried avarakkai..But thoran is my life line..Make it almost everyday..looks delish..:)

happy weekend dear..:)

Ashwini said...

Miss that frest avarekai..We don't get here..It looks so yumm..

Suparna said...

Thoran is a new found recipe for me :) I got the recipe from my dear friend n blogger superchef :) I'm so glad to read ur recipe and the combi veggies that can be used to make thoran :) Thanks for the tips.
Happy weekend :)

Indhu said...

lovely recipe... my mother makes this... your picture looks awesome...

jayasree said...

For the last two months, i had cooked avarakkai atleast twice in a week. Had a bumber harvest of avarakkai at home.

Jayashree said...

Agree with u 100% on the "thoran is just not the same without coconut" stance....

Madhumathi said...

Love avvarakai so much..It looks tasty and the pics are great :)

Arfi Binsted said...

I just heard the name. By the look of it, it is runner beans we call it. Does it grow to rambling the fence? If it does, then it might be the same beans. These beans often are tough when they are left too long on the vine. I often use the young ones to accompany meat/chicken roast dishes, traditional English one, I suppose. Cooking this way can be another challenge for my family but surely can be a crowd pleaser in a party, I believe :)

Mishmash ! said...

your las pic tempts me a looks so appetizing, no matter how simple the dish is....i feel like going home now...:(

Aparna said...

I understand what you mean. There are a few vegetables and dishes that my husband and daughter don't and since its too much of an effort to cook them just for me, I keep missing them!

Cooking them in the MW helps keep them from ging mushy, Soma.

Asha, since you grow a lot of vegetables, maybe you could try growing these too.

I guess this not available in many places out there, Manju and Ashwini. But you can make this with any other variety of beans too.

You're welcome, Radha.

Thanks Varsha and Suparna. Same to you.

Really, Jayasree. Though you must be a bit tired of this by now, I guess.:D

I checked out pictures of runner beans, and though it seems very similar I think it is not the same thing. I am more familiar with the local names of many of these vegetables than their English names.:D

These beans (Hyacinth) also grow on a vine (either on a trellis or on the ground) and yes, they also become tough if left too long on the vine. Then you can really use only the beans inside the pods. But if they are plucked when they are tender and cooked, they make a very tasty vegetable.

Any member of the beans family (like string beans, yard long beans, cluster beans, etc) can be cooked like this with coconut and green chillies.

Homesickness, huh, Shn? :)

raHul said...


i would like to thank you for this recipe. i am a pallakad iyer leading a bachelor life and missed home food. I tried this recipe and was felt like home.

i thank the MDK team once again.


rahul raman

Aparna said...

Good to know this recipe reminded you of home. :)