Green beans are another of my favorites vegetables - quick cooking, delicious and very versatile. I use them when making pulaos, fried rice, pau bhaji, vegetable kurma and many other mixed vegetable recipes. I might have mentioned this before, but I cook by color to ensure that we have enough vegetables in our meal. I try to make sure that there are atleast 2-3 colors on the plate and green beans, of course, are the green component. I usually have them on hand, and a handful is just enough.
My mom makes a green beans thoran with a sprinkle of grated fresh coconut that I love. So during my masters, to make things easier for me, I picked up a bag of frozen green beans and attempted to replicate that dish. It was a horror getting those beans as tender and flavorful as I had hoped them to be. From them on I've never bought them frozen, if we had the frozen mixed veg pack, I would painstakingly pick & leave out the green beans in them. The frozen french cut green beans on the other hand, I love. They cook in minutes, and retain the delicate flavor of the beans. They are addictive when sauteed with some onions & garlic and paired with some hot tomato rasam and rice, yummm. This was my quick meal during the snowy winter nights.
Fresh green beans are definitely the way to go for this thoran. Dicing them is the only time consuming part, but even that can be hastened by bunching the beans together while chopping. I like to get a fine dice on the beans for this recipe. Usually freshly grated coconut is used to flavor the beans right at the very end, but my mom in the interest of health replaces it with soaked moong beans. Apart from making it nutritional, this also bumps up the protein content on the meal.
Green Beans thoran with Moong dalIngredients:
- 3 cups - Green beans, diced
- 3/4 cup - split Moong dal
- 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp - Cumin seeds
- 1/8 tsp - Turmeric powder
- 2 nos - dried, Red chillies
- 4-5 nos - Curry leaves, torn into smaller bits
- 1 tsp - Urad dal
- 1 Tbsp - Oil
- Salt to tasteMethod:
- Wash the moong dal in multiple changes of water and soak for 45mins -1hr. Alternately, cook them in the microwave (~4-5mins) with a little bit of water, until just tender.
- In a saute pan, heat the oil and splutter the mustard & cumin seeds. Add the dry red chillies, turmeric and curry leaves next and cook for 30secs.
- Add the diced beans & drained moong dal next, sprinkle some salt and cook covered on medium flame until the beans are tender and acquire a bright green color. The salt will bring out the moisture in the beans and you should not need to add more water, but if you find that your beans are dry, sprinkle some water and cook.
- Uncover and cook for a few more minutes to dry out any residual moisture and serve hot with rice or roti's.Notes:For the traditional version, add 1/2 cup of grated fresh coconut in step 4 instead of using moong dal. You could also add texture vegetable protein to this dish, soak it in some warm water for 10 mins. Squeeze out all the water and add along with the beans. The turmeric in this recipe helps retain the green color of the beans.
These beans with some warm rice and sambar/rasam create a perfect meal. We had them with chapathi's and a simple swiss chard stir fry though and it was equally satisfying. For me more than the nutrition part, the moong dal is just more convenient. I don't always have frozen coconut ready to add to this recipe but there is always some moong in the pantry. Since the dal has a mild flavor it does not compete with the delicate beans for the spotlight, instead they compliment each other very well.