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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.