from one generation to the next
Cracking open a coconut with the back of a machete is not a task for the feint of heart. It requires confidence, boldness and a level of adroitness beyond my capability.
I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but I never considered needing to open the coconut when romanticising about scraping the flesh from a fresh coconut to use in the bundle of recipes I collected whilst participating in cooking schools across the south of India, so I bought myself a rather lethal looking coconut scraper, stowed it in my luggage and lugged it home.
Thoran is the generic name applied to a range of coconut based vegetable dishes, one of which always feature on the traditional “Sadhya” meal served on a banana leaf at Keralan celebrations. I wanted to have access to fresh coconut to make the recipes I had enjoyed making and in the cooking classes in Kerala.
Paralysed with fear at the thought of cracking a coconut open, the grater was pushed to the back of the cupboard and the desire to make thoran was relegated to the back of my mind until late last year my blogging friend Francesca at “Almost Italian” mentioned a book of Indian food she was reluctant to return to her local library. I have great respect for Francesca’s culinary assessments so I also borrowed a copy of the book, “Spice Kitchen” by Ragini Dey, and there was a recipe for Green Bean Thoran using that ubiquitous pantry staple, desiccated coconut.
I hope you enjoy this recipe too.
Green Bean Thoran – serves 4 with other dishes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
6 curry leaves
350g green beans topped, tailed, sliced 3cm long
1 long red chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 scant tablespoons desiccated coconut
Heat the oil in a small pan that has a tight fitting lid.
Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves to lightly toast.
Add the beans, chilli, ginger and salt, stir to coat the beans in oil then cover tightly and cook for 10 – 15 minutes over a low heat, tossing the pan from time to time to prevent the beans from sticking.
When the beans are cooked, add the coconut, cook for another 2 minutes.
Transfer to a serving bowl