Another in our Kootu series is made with cluster beans, and jaggery is added which counterbalances the slight bitterness of the beans and compliments the tamarind very well. It is slightly sweet-sour.
Most Kootus are made from vegetables, coconut and a mix of spices. Sometimes lentils or a dal is added to thicken the kootu. Generally kootus are made with vegetables that are locally available.
The recipe is another of Meenakshi Ammal‘s from her cook books Cook and See. She says that this same Kootu can be made with green beans, sabre beans, eggplant, plantain, plantain flower and chow chow.
Cluster Beans Jaggery Kootu
350g cluster beans (fresh or frozen), cut into small pieces
small lump tamarind
2 tspn sambar powder
3 tspn jaggery
6 – 8 curry leaves
1 tspn rice flour
1 tspn brown Mustard seeds
2 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
2 tspn channa dal (bengal gram dal)
3 Tblspn grated coconut (defrosted frozen is fine if fresh is not available)
1.5 Tblspn ghee or Indian sesame oil
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 and the jaggery to the beans and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the asafoetida and pinched curry leaves. Mix well and simmer for a few moments. 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. As they turn golden, add the coconut and saute until just turning golden. Pour the oil, coconut and spices onto the kootu.
Serve with rice and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add bean seeds or chickpeas by cooking them separately and add after the cluster beans have cooked. Roasted chickpeas can also be added. Omit the channa dal from the tadka if using chickpeas.
Green beans, sabre beans, eggplant, plantain, plantain flower and chow chow can be prepared the same way.
Eggplant, green beans, plantains and chow chow can be cooked as above, as they cook easily. Cook French beans and sabre beans in a little water with salt and turmeric with the sambar powder. When the vegetables are tender, add the thick tamarind water.
If using plantain flower, cook separately and a thin juice of tamarind only added when it is tender. Mix about 1/8th cup tamarind juice with turmeric to stop the flower getting a black colour.