This kootu recipe is one that can be made with cluster beans alone or with added cooked bean seeds or whole cooked chickpeas. It is easy and quite versatile. I love the taste of cluster beans with their gentle bitterness, and make it most often with them alone.
Sambar vadams can be used in this dish, but they are difficult to find here. Add them if you wish.
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 Beans Kootu
2 cups sliced cluster beans (fresh or frozen)
0.25 tspn turmeric powder
0.25 cups toor dal (red gram dal)
small lump tamarind
1.25 – 1.5 tspn sambar powder
coconut milk or coconut shreds that have been finely ground
1 tspn jaggery
1 tspn rice flour
pinch asafoetida powder
8 – 10 curry leaves
a few sambar vadams (optional)
1 tspn brown Mustard seeds
1 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
1 tspn channa dal (bengal gram dal)
1 Tblspn ghee or Indian sesame oil
Cook the toor dal until tender and disintegrating. Do not drain.
Meanwhile, wash the cluster beans and drain well. Heat a pan and add the beans, turmeric and sea salt, and toss in the heat for a moment. Add water to just cover the beans, add the sambar powder, and simmer until tender.
Make tamarind juice by soaking the tamarind in hot water for 15 – 20 mins, then strain, reserving the water. Push the pulp through the strainer to extract as much as you can, leaving the seeds and fibres behind. Add the tamarind juice to the beans and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked toor dal, jaggery, asafoetida and pinched curry leaves. Mix well and simmer for a few moments. Add the coconut milk or finely ground coconut mixed to a paste with water. Then add the rice flour mixed to a paste with water, and bring back to a simmer while stirring. Continue stirring until the kootu thickens. Remove from the heat.
Make a tadka by heating the ghee or sesame oil in a tadka pan or small pan, and add the mustard seeds. Allow to pop and then add the urad dal and channa dal. When they turn golden, pour the oil and spices onto the kootu.
If adding sambar vadams, fry them in ghee and add.
Serve and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add bean seeds or chickpeas by cooking them separately and add after the cluster beans have cooked. Omit the channa dal from the tadka.
Runner Beans, Eggplants, Amaranth stems, karunai yam and chenai yam can be prepared the same way. If using either of the yams (elephant yam and elephant foot yam), scrape the skin, dice and cook separately and proceed.
For any vegetable that you are cooking separately, add thick tamarind juice to the cooking water, rather than using tamarind water.
I have left the beans in larger pieces here, but you can cut them into small pieces. This is more traditional.