Cluster beans (also know as gawar beans or guar beans) are green beans native to India. They are better known as the source of guar gum than as an important part of the diet. However they are high in fibre, low in calories and have been found to be effective at lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
So now you are probably wondering how anything so nutritious (and cheap!) can taste good. Well cluster beans have a very delicate flavour and if cooked using the recipe below can even win over veggiephobes; in fact my own resident veggiephobe (aka Steve) loves this dish. It has a very unusual flavour, slightly bitter and definitely grown up but the dumplings make it comforting and I am sure that you will go back for a second helping.
Serves 3 people as a main course
For the curry
- Two handfuls of cluster beans - topped and tailed. Note: These should be a lime green colour and long, thin and tender. If they are a dark green they will be overripe and if they are thick they will contain seeds. You can still use thick cluster beans but they will probably require destringing.
- 4 tablespoons light tasting vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
- 3/4 teaspoon ajwain seeds
- 1 small onion - coarsely chopped
- 5 grams ginger - peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 green chillies - finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1.5 teaspoons coriander-cumin powder
- 2 litres boiling water
- A handful of chopped coriander
For the dumplings
- 80 grams juwar flour
- 120 grams chapati flour
- 15 grams chickpea flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- a pinch of asafoetida
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 stalks coriander - finely chopped and washed
- 100 millilitres boiling water
- Cut the cluster beans into lengths of 2-3 centimetres.
- Soak the cut cluster beans in water.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan and add the asafoetida and the ajwain seeds.
- Now add the onion and let it cook until it is slightly brown.
- At this point add the ginger, garlic, chillies, turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander-cumin powder. Stir well.
- Drain the cluster beans and add them to the saucepan and stir.
- Add 450 millilitres water and stir again. Now place a lid on the pan and let it simmer on a low heat while you make the dough for the dumplings.
- Meanwhile place all of the dumpling ingredients except for the water into a mixing bowl. Use a spoon to mix them together.
- Now add the boiling water and kneed until a firmish dough has been formed. Add more boiling water if required.
- Leave the dough to one side for a minute while you add 250 millilitres boiling water and 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan with the cluster beans. Stir well and place the lid back on the pan.
- Returning to the dough, lightly grease a chopping board.
- Split the dough into three lumps. Take the first lump and roll it out on the greased chopping board until it is approximately 3 millimetres thick. Then use a small pastry cutter (mine has a diameter of 4 centimetres but as long as it is bite-sized that is fine) to make round shapes.
- Add the dumplings to the pan with the cluster beans. Add them individually to prevent them from sticking together and forming a single lump.
- Add 250 millilitres boiling water and 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan and stir gently. Place the lid back on the pan and let it simmer.
- Now roll out the second lump of dough and cut into round shapes.
- Add the dumplings to the pan and add another 250 millilitres boiling water and 1/2 tablespoon oil and stir gently. Place the lid back on the pan.
- Roll out the third lump of dough and cut into round shapes.
- Add the dumplings to the pan and add another 250 millilitres boiling water and 1/2 tablespoon oil and stir gently.
- Place the lid back on the pan and turn the heat up to medium - high. Let it cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Turn the heat down to low and let the curry cook for another 5-10 minutes.
- Garnish with coriander and serve immediately. The dumplings provide the carbohydrate in this dish and so no rice or bread is required unless you are particularly hungry.