Paruppu usili with clove beans (மூக்குத்தி அவரை)

*Paruppu usili is a traditional South India recipe that is a must on all festive occasions like festivals, weddings and other celebrations. It is usually made with beans, cabbage, cluster beans, chow chow and other such vegetables. A few months ago, I was given some heirloom seeds of a vegetable called clove bean. It seems this is  a very common vegetable in Kerala and I was curious to see how it would taste. Within a few months of sowing the seeds in my terrace garden, I not only had healthy plants but also flowers and eventually the clove beans. These beans look like a large green cloves, with the bulbous portion housing the seeds. This vegetable is rich in fibre, potassium and calcium. When tender, you can eat the whole bean, including the seeds. Having got a decent harvest, I decided to make paruppu usili with these beans. These beans taste similar to a cross between green beans and asparagus and have an inherent crunchiness which remains even after cooking and pairs very well with the paruppu usili.

clove beans
seed of the clove bean

Clove beans – 25
Tuvar dal – 1/3 cup
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Green chillies – 2
Curry leaves – 15
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp

Soak the tuvar dal and chana dal in water for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, wash the clove beans and cut it like you would cut regular green beans. Cook the clove beans along with sufficient amount of salt in a pot or kadai and set aside. Now take the soaked dals, chillies and curry leaves and grind to a thick paste adding as little water as necessary. Add turmeric powder and salt to this and mix well.

In a heavy bottom kadai, heat the oil and pop the mustard. Add urad dal and fry till it turns golden brown. Add the asafoetida and then the paste. Keep stirring till the dough is mixed well. Cover and allow to cook well making sure the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom of the kadai. Once cooked, remove from stove and allow to cool.

Once it has cooled down, break it up with a spoon such that there are no lumps. Do not allow the dough to dry out while cooking. This will make the paruppu usiii very dry. I normally take it off the stove when there is still some moisture left in the dough. Once you have broken up the cooked dough, add the cooked clove beans and mix in gently. Put it back on the stove and mix well till it all comes together. The finished dish should be moist and not dry. This makes for a great side dish in any South Indian meal, particularly if you serve sambar, vatha kuzhambu or more kuzhambu. Serves 4.

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