Thoran – An add-on to make a healthy luncheon
Indian cooking world welcomes you back to the journey into its' engrossing and delectable food delicacies…. One of the main facets of our Indian cooking is the maximum inclusion of veggies in our diet menu. Be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Indians always make it a point to include a veg item in the daily diet thereby screening their genuine love for good food, which is devouring tasty food without compromising on the health aspects…. A notable feature of our Indian cooking indeed!! And our own Kerala cooking is by no means an exception to this and in tandem follows this rather unique feature of our renowned Indian cooking. In fact, most of the Keralites use vegetables mainly for lunch and occasionally for dinner and breakfast. (All pure non-vegans are exempted.) Of course, there are exceptions like me; for being a hard-core vegan, I try to make sole veg dishes thrice a day and one of them being an essential Thoran for lunch. :0)
Thoran or Poriyal, popularly termed stir-fry by a non-Keralite, in fact forms an imperative part of our Kerala cuisine. And indeed Kerala cuisine or cooking is considered rather incomplete without a thoran for lunch/dinner. Especially during those sumptuous Kerala sadhyas, when thoran forms one of the main side dishes to be served, right from the outset contributing to that aromatic ambience. Truly intriguing moments…or rather mouthwatering, must say?? :-p
One of the main features of Kerala thoran is that it can be made with almost all kinds of vegetables including green leafy ones…thus making your lunch all the more healthy and nutritious. A rather simple and easy dish with no too much of hassle…something that is all set in a few minutes. And another all-important pro is that a thoran is all handy for moms of picky-eating tots too. Coz I consider this as one of the easiest ways to feed veggies to my little one. Neither too hot nor too bland, this mildly spiced one with a little coconut and a healthy vegetable goes really well as an appetizing accompaniment with rice. And cud be precisely labeled as a true vegan’s delight. ;-P
Quite divergent to the usual Indian cooking or recipes format, which quintessentially takes in lots of oil and ghee, the Kerala thoran does really stand apart in this regard. With the usage of healthy fibrous veggies along with the nominal usage of oil and coconut, Kerala thoran is one dish you could draw on your daily menu to stay healthy and fit. Definitely not falling in the lip-smacking category, but truly being one of its kinds of our Kerala cuisine, these thorans can be made with almost all kinds of firm veggies, leafy ones or mixture of various veggies and even of a few lentils…thereby emanating a rather multicolored hue to the platters on the dining table. Really an overwhelming naadan treat for lunch!!!
Though the recipe guidelines for a thoran followed in all households are almost the same, I found a couple of slight variations especially that arouse subject to the type of the veggie used. While some parts of Kerala use garlic in all thorans, there are others who use it occasionally or avoid it fully and use red or small onions instead; leaving you confused to a great deal. But now, thx to my Amma-in-law’s cooking lessons, that I’ve been able to make good authentic thorans without any ambiguity. Not too much to brag about, I guess…:) After all, it’s only a simple thoran. Probably a second or third chapter of early cooking lessons…. ;-p
Enlisting below a few popular thorans I often make.
a) Cabbage thoran – An extremely popular one in households and sadhyas. Very light on the ingredients and can be made instantaneously. Use red onions instead of garlic.
b) Carrot thoran – To begin with, a very tasty one indeed. Is also very useful to make kids have carrots. Try adding an egg in the final stages and scramble it along with the carrots. Its’ simply fantastic!!! Cud use either garlic or red onions.
c) Beans thoran – Another popular and simple one. Works for those who are “allergic” to the sight of beans. Use red onions instead of garlic.
d) Beetroot thoran – Healthy crimson coloured thoran that would be highly relished by kids. An easy way to make them eat beetroot…. Again use garlic for best results.
e) Potato thoran – A deviation from the usual thorans. Cud use both red onions n garlic.
f) Achinga (Runner beans) thoran – A tasty one…easy to make too. Use red onions instead of garlic.
g) Cherupayar thoran – A highly nutritious one with Whole Green gram or Moong dhal. Goes really well with rice gruel (kanji). Use garlic for best results.
h) Van payar thoran – Tastes best when stir-fried with red chilly powder and coriander powder.
i) Spinach (Cheera) thoran – Highly nutrient and healthy one. Use garlic instead of onions.
j) Kappanga (Papaya) thoran – Do try out a thoran with a raw papaya as it is extremely beneficial for your health. Again, use garlic instead of onions.
k) Vazhapindi thoran - Extremely healthy intake and simply tastes divine when coupled with Van payar.
l) Vazhapoo thoran – Another one that is extremely beneficial for your body. Tastes best again when coupled with Van payar.
m) Idinchakka thoran – Seasonal by nature. But a highly popular one in all households when in season. Use garlic for best results.
n) Cabbage–Carrot-Beans thoran – A mixture of these three is sure to enhance the taste, flavour and the appearance. Use red onions instead of garlic.
o) Achinga-Chena-Ethakkai thoran – Another popular one with long runner beans, yam and raw plantains. Use red onions instead of garlic. Here, you need to pre-cook the finely chopped veggies before you start off to make the thoran.
p) Vendakka (Lady’s finger) thoran – Try out a thoran with vendakka instead of the usual mezhukkupuratti (sautéed vendakka). Use red onions instead of garlic.
q) Pavakka (Bittergourd) thoran – A different treat to pavakka in the form of thoran for all pavakka lovers. Use red onions instead of garlic.
As said before, these are only a few of the innumerable kinds of thorans that can be concocted accdg to our Kerala cuisine. Check out the rest of those kinds in this site or here. For carrot, beetroot, cherupayar(whole Moong dhal) and potato thoran, pls follow the same procedure of that of Kappanga or Cheera thoran.
1) Usage of garlic is purely optional. But using it gives a totally different flavor and taste to the whole dish. If using garlic, do add a tsp of plain rice while tempering. And if not using garlic, use finely chopped red onions instead.
2) You can also use cumin seeds powder instead of whole cumin seeds.
3) After cooking for a few minutes with a closed lid, cook it further for around 10 minutes on low flame until the thoran becomes somewhat crispier. Or else, you could also reduce the sautéing time if you are a keen fitness freak. :)
4) Again, for the weight watchers, though using lots of coconut enhances the taste, use minimal quantity of coconut and oil for healthy cooking.
5) And finally, for best results, chop the veggies using your hands instead of grating it or using a processor (except for beetroot).
So, there you are…. A naadan thoran ready to be served with a bowl of Sambhar/Pulissery, a blob of Manga chammandhi, a small serve (or a generous one rather) of your favourite pickle and a couple of pappadums.... Absolutely perfect for a occasional naadan lunch. A few items in number though…but they really go a long way. And am sure all naadan food lovers wud agree with me on that…. :-)
And so all cooking novices, making thoran isn’t that intricate kinda job. So, tie on your apron and get ready with your fastest and sharpest knife to start chopping the first veggie that stares at you in your refrigerator. Go rite ahead, cook up a wonderful thoran with it, and enjoy a perfect and healthy lunch with your family…. ;-)
So, on that note, happy cooking thorans!!!
Labels: Indian Cooking