Beans Thoran Recipe

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Traditionally from Kerala, Beans Thoran is a simple yet delicious, comforting and healthy, sautéed or stir-fried preparation made with green beans (french beans). Apart from the green beans and typical South Indian spices, coconut oil and fresh coconut give this dish a remarkable flavor. The flavor and taste of the beans also merges really well with the coconut. The recipe is also vegan and gluten-free.

beans thoran served in a black rimmed pot with text layovers.

About Thoran

A Thoran is a traditional dry veggie recipe, a specialty from the cuisine of Kerala. These can be made with a variety of finely chopped or grated vegetables like bitter gourd, yam, carrot, cabbage, plantains, various kinds of green beans, amaranth leaves, drumsticks or drumstick leaves. The Beans Thoran is also one of them.

It is also known as ‘upperi’ in some regions of South India, and other than the vegetables, the basic ingredients include shallots, fresh grated coconut, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, cumin seeds or cumin powder, green chilli or dried red chilli and coconut oil.

There are some variations in certain thoran recipes like addition of ginger, garlic, red chili powder, using onions instead of shallots, etc. In fact, we make thoran of all the vegetables mentioned above.

Thoran is one of the dishes that is served in the grand, all-vegetarian Sadya, along with other dishes. A ‘sadya’ is a mighty feast where a vegetarian meal comprising of various dishes is served on a plantain/banana leaf. This is common during the festival of Onam in Kerala.

Just like this Beetroot Thoran, any other thoran is also primarily vegan too. Since the spices used in a typical thoran preparation are subtle and the dish is simple, yet flavorful, it is also considered as hearty comfort food.

Some of the thoran recipes I have shared are Beetroot Thoran, Cabbage Thoran, Ash Gourd Thoran and Vellarikka Thoran.

About Beans Thoran Recipe

For this recipe of Beans Thoran, I mostly tend to use the pearl onions or sambar onions. I love how this tiny variety of onions brings a distinct flavor in a dish. These are usually milder and even sweeter as compared to the larger red onions. Thus, work really well in this thoran preparation.

Other ingredients for this Beans Thoran include garlic, green chilies, curry leaves, whole spices like mustard seeds and cumin seeds and turmeric powder. You can spike up the dish for more spice by adding more number of green chilies in it.

As I also mentioned earlier, this dish is quite incomplete without the coconut in it. Be it the coconut oil, which is used as the cooking fat or the fresh grated coconut that adds a lovely texture and flavor profile in the dish.

While making this Beans Thoran or any other thoran, it is definitely a must to use coconut oil to get the real authentic taste. If you use any other oil, then the classic flavor will be missing.

I often make both thoran and poriyals as a vegetable side dish to go with South Indian meals. This Beans Thoran can also be eaten just with some steamed rice or served as an accompaniment with sambar rice or rasam rice combinations.

Thoran is also an important side dish in the all-vegetarian Onam feast of ‘sadya’ in Kerala. I follow a simple and easy method while making the Beans Thoran. Thus, the recipe is easy and takes less time and preparation.

beans thoran served in a black rimmed pot.
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Beans Thoran

Prep Beans and Sauté Spices

1. Firstly, rinse 250 grams French beans a couple of times in water. Then, drain all the water.

Chop the beans finely. Discard the top and the end portions of the beans while chopping.

You will need about 1.5 to 1.75 cups finely chopped beans.

finely chopped french beans.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a heavy pan or kadai. Add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds on low heat.

mustard seeds added to hot coconut oil in a pan.

3. Let the mustard seeds crackle.

mustard seeds crackling in hot coconut oil in pan.

4. Next, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them crackle.

cumin seeds crackling in hot coconut oil.

5. Add 6 to 7 chopped pearl onions (sambar onions) or shallots. You can also use ¼ to ⅓ cup finely chopped onions instead.

chopped pearl onions added to the pan.

6. Mix well and begin to sauté onions on low heat.

sautéing onions.

7. Sauté onions till translucent. Do not brown them.

sautéing onions.

8. Then, add 3 to 4 small to medium finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 chopped green chili and 10 to 11 curry leaves.

finely chopped garlic, chopped green chili and curry leaves added to pan.

9. Mix well.

ingredients mixed well.

10. Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder. Omit adding turmeric powder, if you do not prefer.

turmeric powder added to onion mixture in pan.

11. Mix again.

turmeric powder mixed well.

Make Beans Thoran

12. Now, add the finely chopped beans.

finely chopped french beans added to pan.

13. Stir and mix well.

beans mixed well with the onion mixture.

14. Add ½ cup grated fresh coconut.

grated fresh coconut added to the pan.

15. Season with salt as per taste.

adding salt to the pan.

16. Mix very well.

coconut and salt mixed well in beans mixture.

17. Add about 4 tablespoons water and stir.

adding water to beans thoran.

18. Cover and cook on low heat.

cooking beans thoran in the covered pan.

19. Check after 3 to 4 minutes. If the water has dried, sprinkle some more water. Mix well, cover and continue to cook.

Overall, you can add ⅓ cup water or more as required, in parts, depending on the freshness and quality of green beans.

cooking beans thoran.

20. Cook till the beans are completely done. If there is any water in the pan, cook without lid till all the water evaporates.

cooked beans thoran.

21. Serve Beans Thoran with steamed rice or as a side dish in a sadya meal or Kerala main course. If you want, you can garnish with some coriander leaves.

beans thoran served in a black rimmed pot with text layovers.

Expert Tips

  1. While chopping the French beans for this thoran, make sure to discard the top and end portions of the beans.
  2. Remember to use fresh, tender and green colored beans. Avoid making this preparation with dry or limp beans.
  3. If you don’t have pearl onions, sambar onions or shallots, you can use regular onions. Use ¼ to ⅓ cup finely chopped onions then.
  4. You have to add water in parts to cook this dish. Keep checking while it is getting cooked. If you feel that the water has dried up, then sprinkle some water, mix, cover and cook till fully done.
  5. Ensure cooking the beans completely. If there is still some water in the pan, then cook the thoran without the lid, till the moisture evaporates.

More Beans Recipes To Try!

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beans thoran recipe

Beans Thoran Recipe

Beans Thoran is a delicious beans recipe made with french beans (green beans) from the Kerala cuisine. Apart from the fewer spices used, both fresh grated coconut and coconut oil gives this dish a remarkable flavor and taste – not to forget the taste & flavor of beans that also merges well with the coconut flavors. 
4.75 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Cuisine Kerala, South Indian
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 to 7 pearl onions or sambar onions, ¼ to ⅓ cup chopped shallots or onions can also be used
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves – small to medium-sized, finely chopped
  • 1 green chili – chopped or ½ to 1 teaspoon
  • 10 to 11 curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 250 grams french beans or green beans, about 1.5 to 1.75 cups finely chopped beans
  • ½ cup grated fresh coconut – can swap with frozen coconut
  • cup water or add as required

Instructions
 

Chopping green beans

  • Firstly rinse the green beans a couple of times in water. Then drain all the water. 
  • Chop the beans finely. Discard the top and the end portions of the beans while chopping. You will need about 1.5 to 1.75 cups finely chopped beans.

Making beans thoran

  • Heat coconut oil in a heavy pan or kadai. Keep heat to a low and add mustard seeds.
  • Let the mustard seeds crackle. When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add cumin seeds and let them crackle.
  • Next add the chopped pearl onions or shallots. You can also use ¼ to ⅓ cup finely chopped onions instead.
  • Mix well and begin to sauté onions on a low heat.
  • Sauté till the onions turn translucent. Do not brown them.
  • Then add finely chopped garlic, chopped green chillies and 10 to 11 curry leaves. Mix on a low heat.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder. Mix again.
  • Now add the finely chopped beans. Stir and mix well.
  • Add ½ cup grated fresh coconut. season with salt as per taste. Mix very well again.
  • Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons water first and stir to combine.
  • Cover with a lid and cook beans thoran on a low heat.
  • Check after 3 to 4 minutes. If water has dried up, then sprinkle some more water. Mix well and continue to cover and cook.
    Overall you can add ⅓ cup water or more as required. Add water in parts.
  • Cook till the beans are completely cooked and tender.
    If there is any water in the pan after the beans are tender, then simmer further without lid until all the water evaporates.
  • Serve Beans Thoran with steamed rice or a side vegetable dish in a sadya meal or South Indian meal.
    If you want you can garnish with some coriander leaves.

Notes

  • Use fresh, tender and green colored beans. 
  • Coconut oil add a distinct flavor to the dish. But if out of it, swap with any neutral flavored oil.
  • Instead of fresh coconut, you can use frozen shredded coconut. 
  • Add water as needed while cooking the green beans.
  • Easily scale the recipe to make for more servings.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Beans Thoran Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 158 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Sodium 63mg3%
Potassium 341mg10%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 700IU14%
Vitamin C 85.5mg104%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 1.7mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Beans Thoran recipe from the blog archives, first published in April 2018 has been republished and updated on December 2022.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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5 Comments

  1. Forgot to add three things! 1) Correct on the use on Coconut Oil – scour the stores until you find. Not really worth going through this effort without it. 2) If you can’t find fresh shredded coconut then frozen is a reasonable sub., in my estimate 3) Similarly, if fresh curry leaves are not available to you, then the dried version works, but would advise that you crumble them by hand and sprinkle in. This can help to provide a more balanced textural consistency, unless you like the feel of large leaves on your palate.4 stars

    1. thanks RE for sharing this perfect to the point tips. of course dried curry leaves also work. i used to use them when i never had fresh curry leaves on hand. yes crumbling and sprinkling dried curry leaves is a great tip. frozen coconut also works well in the recipe.

  2. Great Recipe. Absolutely spot on. I would emphasize that in my limited experience, very slow cooking with careful attention to the water levels is key. I made this for my wife who likes a crisper texture, and dryer consistency. Given this, a low temp, less water, sealed top and longer check interval approach works best. Otherwise, this was quite a well laid out recipe!4 stars