June 25, 2007
Collard Greens w/ Red Beans Thoran
A vegetable item is a must on my lunch and dinner table. Sounds uncharacteristic coming from a seemingly non-veg oriented blog right?:)But it's true..a meal with just multiple non-veg items makes me uncomfortable and yearn for something green and crunchy for balance. Not potatoes or veg curries, plain old vegetables.
My mom was relating stories of olden days in her mom's house where vegetable were always present, not just as thorans but in exotic combinations with specific menus. Some were kaya-payar mezhukuparatti(plantains with string beans), padavalange-parippu(snake gourd with lentils), spicy okra thottukootan, cheera thoran,muringya ela thoran(leaves of the drumstick plant) payar ela thoran(leaves of the string beans)etc. Of course, we are not as stringent with the combinations now, happily adapting to the local produce instead.
So recently when I tasted a combination of collard greens and vanpayar(red beans), brought home by my better half from a mallu restaurant (more like a thattukada or dhaba)near his office here, it was intriguing. An American vegetable converted into such a mallu taste! So I had to try and recreate it at home.
Collard greens is slightly bitter and rough leaf, local to the US market, available in plenty here. The central stem needs to be removed, it takes longer to cook, and has a pronounced rough texture. As a thoran(stirfry), it is acceptable as the addition of coconut and garlic renders it different but the addition of the beans gave it a pleasing texture. I have tried both red beans and black eyed beans and though both are good, red beans being smaller is better. This can be tried with any green that is made into a thoran, such as kale, Swiss chard, cheera etc but vary the cooking time accordingly.
You will need:
1/2 bunch of Collard Greens
Red Beans(vanpayar)-1/4 cup
Shallots- 2 sliced
Whole Dried Red Chilies-1 or 2
Green chilies- 4 or 5 chopped
Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
Garlic- 2 cloves
Coconut- 1/4 cup.
Salt to taste
Oil- 1 tbsp
1. Soak the greens in lots of water for 5-10 minutes to get rid of the sand. Wash it well under running water. Let it drain thoroughly. Optional, mop up excess water with paper towels. Remove the central thick stem and chop the leaves finely.
2. Cook the red beans with double the water and 1/2 tsp salt in a pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles. It should be just cooked and not over cooked and smashed. (Use your judgement on how much time it would take in a cooker.)
3. Pulse the coconut, chilies and garlic together without water in a dry grinder till it looks scrambled.
4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the shallots and red chilies torn into pieces. Fry till the shallots turns translucent and then add the greens, salt and turmeric. Keep the pan covered on low heat for about 10 minutes to cook the collard greens. They take longer to cook than regular greens so check the pan after 5 minutes and add water by spoonfuls if needed.
5. Open and cook uncovered on medium flame for 5-7 minutes till all the water evaporates. Make a well in the middle of the leaves and add the coconut mix and the cooked beans. Mix thoroughly and adjust salt. Serve with rice.