December 2, 2012

Kerela Green Beans

Traditionally, green beans at Thanksgiving are unrecognizable in the Green Bean Casserole. While GBC was always my most favorite Thanksgiving dish, I do realize that any nutritional benefits that one might get from eating green beans were smothered completely by the Cream of Mushroom soup (which gets 50% if its calories from fat) and french fried onions. So I decided to revamp, and Indianize, the staple green bean at my Thanksgiving Table with Fraans Bean Thoran. 

A dish native to the South Indian state of Kerela (God's Own Country), Thoran is traditionally made of finely diced/chopped vegetables. While it is made most often with green beans, it can also be made with carrots, cabbage, green tomatoes, jackfruit and even bittergourd. The vegetable is mixed together with grated coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric and is traditionally eaten with steamed plain white rice. The humble person's dinner .. totally delicious and so nutritious. Being the lazy cook that I am, and because my knife skills leave much to be desired, I make my thoran with whole or french cut green beans.

Fraans Bean Thoran
  1. 3 packs of frozen Whole Green beans  
  2. 1 shallot, chopped (optional) 
  3. 1 tbsp Olive oil 
  4. 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  5. 2 tsp Whole mustard seeds
  6. 2 tsp Ground mustard powder
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste. 
  8. 1/4 to 1/3 cup Fresh/Frozen/Dried Coconut.* 
Directions (45-60 min before Dinner):
If using whole fresh beans, cut ends and remove threads. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch beans (add to boiling water, boil for 2-3 min, drain, and drench in ice cold water). If using french-cut beans, blanching is not necessary.  In a sauteing pan, heat oil until sizzling and add mustard seeds (warning, mustard seeds can pop when added to hot oil, so be careful). As the aroma is released from the mustard seeds (5-15 seconds in hot oil), add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Add green beans, give it a quick toss and then transfer the beans to a lidded casserole dish, sprinkle coconut on top. Cover and let sit in oven at 250 F until ready to serve.

* while a thoran is traditionally made with coconut, if you're not a big fan of coconut, it can be skipped and the dish is great even without it. 

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