Cluster Beans are similar to green beans except smaller, flatter, crunchier, tougher, and slightly but nicely bitter in taste. They have quite a distinctive taste. In Australia it is rare to find them fresh, even though they are grown here. They must all be exported. But frozen cluster beans are common in any Indian grocery.
Cluster beans are also known as Gawar Ki Phalli or Gaur in Hindi and Marathi, and Kothavarangai in Tamil.
The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
Cluster Bean Dal Kootu | Kothavarangai Paruppu Kootu
175g young and tender cluster beans (frozen are Ok)
0.5 cup toor dal or mung dal, cooked until soft and disintegratingut
0.25 tspn turmeric powder
10 curry leaves
sea salt to taste
2 tspn ghee
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
4 – 5 Indian dried red chillies
Cut the beans in half and add to a pan with water to cover, sea salt to taste, and the turmeric powder. Simmer until tender.
Add the cooked dal, asafoetida and crushed curry leaves, and mix well. Bring to the boil and boil well for a minute or two.
If the dish is rather thin, it can be thickened with 0.5 tspn rice flour or chickpea flour, mixed with a tiny amount of water to a smooth paste. Add to the simmering dal while stirring, and continue to stir until the dal thickens slightly.
Make a tadka by heating the ghee in a tadka pan or other small pan, and popping the mustard seeds. As the popping slows down add the red dried chillies. When they darken in colour, pour the oil and spices over the Kootu.
Simmer for a minute, and then remove the dal from the heat. Serve and enjoy.