Saturday, February 20, 2010

Horsegram and Chinese Cucumber Curry in Spicy Coconut Gravy (Kulitha Koddel with Magge)

Horse gram or Kulitha or Kulthi as its called in Konkani is a powerhouse of nutrition and goodness. This is a lesser known variety and I have seen very few families cooking it nowadays. This bean is cooked quite a lot in my home due to the health properties Horse gram empowers one with. Rich in iron, this is a very heat enduring bean. Ideal to eat during winters, the bean keeps the body warm, but should not be eaten in excess as well.Owing to the heat enduring nature of this bean, its always paired with a cooling vegetable to complement in my house. This was Granny's logic to combat and balance the vegetable and their natural properties and the generations to come have been following it for years now. The bean enables in elimination of kidney stones. I found them here in Asian grocery stores and they go by the name of "Kulthi". Chinese Cucumber or Magge you find in US are much smaller and all yellow in color.

In olden days, the boiled stalk remaining after boiling the beans was offered to cows, cattle reared at home and horses as a fodder. This stalk offered strength and stamina to the bones and made them more strong. I save the boiled stalk for next day to enjoy simple "Saaru". The broth has to be boiled till it thickens and then seasoned with sauted garlic and red chillies. Some even address it as Kulitha Kadi which is finding lot of local popularity as a healthy beverage served during weddings and family get together now. I found this cool when I came to know for a cousin's wedding this was served as a soup based welcome drink.

The curry is cooked along with different vegetable combinations like Horse gram and seasonal vegetables like Chinese Cucumber (Magge), Chinese Potato (Kooka), Drumstick (Shengaa) or Malabar Spinach stems (Bhaaji Dentu). The curry with Garlic seasoning is called "Koddel", if done with pulses its termed as "Bendee". I also came across another interesting theory for naming the curries; my cousins informed me that coconut-red chillies-tamarind based curries cooked with pulses, beans are termed as Bendee in Mangalore and Koddel if you are from Udupi. Its so fascinating knowing how our cuisines originate and the finer change which the cuisine undergoes with a subtle change in geography and locations. I am simply awed!

Preparation time: 3-4 hours for soaking the beans
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Horsegram or Kulith - 1 1/2 cup
Chinese Cucumber or Magge (chopped with skin on) - 1 1/2 cup
Grated coconut - 3/4th cup
Red Chillies - 4-5
Tamarind pulp - 1 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Coconut Oil - For frying
Garlic (crushed) - 4-5 pods

Pre-soak the beans in water for 3-4 hours. Pressure cook for 2 whistles or till the bean is completely cooked along with chopped Chinese cucumber pieces. Along side, roast red chillies and allow to cool. Grind to a paste along with grated coconut and tamarind. Bring to boil the beans and chopped cucumber, add ground paste and adjust salt and water. Simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes till its completely cooked. In a separate pan, heat coconut oil, saute crushed garlic in it and pour this seasoning on the curry and cover the lid. Serve warm along with rice as a side dish.

Tip: Crush the garlic alongwith skin for better flavour to the curry. Horsegram is a tricky bean, sometimes even after soaking it could under boil or get mushy or overcooked, use your discretion and watchful eye while cooking the bean. The boiling point for the bean depends on various factors influenced by rain, time of harvest of crop, soft water or hard water quality. For better flavour, retain the skin of Magge or Chinese Cucumber. Its more flavourful if skin is retained.


  1. Horsegram saaru is our weekend speciality..never paired it with any veggies. Look very good with chi cucumber..Very comforting meal.

  2. @ Madhu - Thanks. I liked the Saaru as well the coconut based curry, both flavours are simply deicious.

  3. Beautiful post, Ashwini! It really is fascinating to learn of the immense varieties of Konkani preparations. Kulith is one bean that I have yet to try.

  4. @ Nupur - Thanks. When I feel that I have understood a little bit about my cuisine, I realise there is much more and I know very less. Glad you liked the post.

  5. Kulith is one of my favorite aunt makes this the clicks here and a great combination of veggies.

  6. @ Deepa - Thanks. Kulith is widely used and prepared amongst Konkanis and more so in my home. The usali we make is after the Kulith gets sprouts and then seasoned as per choice.


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