Gavar (Cluster Beans) with Peanuts


It’s great when you discover a new way with regular ingredients.  It’s even better when the ingredients involved are few and the recipe is effortless.  My friend SK, who knows my love for Southern Indian food, is often my guide and shares new ideas or leads me to lesser known food-blogs that highlight the kind of food I like to cook.  She is a writer and is constantly engaging the characters, such as you and me, around her.  These ‘encounters’ make her a treasure trove of traditional recipes as well.  During one such chat with me, she sketched the dish the maid had put together for her lunch that day.  A basic, peasant-style approach to food, it involved the ubiquitous red chilli as the only spice.  The addition of roasted peanuts, of course, adds to the nutritional content while providing a hint of refinement to what is otherwise a truly minimalistic dish.  It is almost as if you were deconstructing the Maharashtrian-style gavar-bhaji, and trying to retain what is absolutely essential.  The two dishes are similar, yet it is clear that the peasant-style one has been pared down to its essence. Frugal, but, full of flavour.

The finished dish can work as a side to any Indian meal, or even as a salad.  You could replace cluster beans with another vegetable – french beans, peas, cabbage – endless combinations.  Or mix it into cooked rice, as Sangeeta said she did, with some additional oil or ghee, and you have a one-dish pulav/stir-fried rice that is perfect for a packed lunch.  It has won gavar-haters over to this side!

gawar bhaji

Gavar (cluster beans) with Peanuts

250gms (1/4lb.) fresh cluster beans
1/4-1/2 cup freshly roasted peanuts, crushed
3-5 whole dried red chillies (I use a mix combining Byadgi from Karnataka, Guntur chillies, and Goan titimiti chillies. Sometimes, I also throw in a mor milagai, chillies that have been soaked in salted buttermilk and then sun-dried)
3-5 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsp oil
salt, to taste

spiced powder

mixed up

Top and tail cluster beans, and cut into 1/2 cm dice. Steam (or boil) the beans till they are of desired tenderness; I like them to have just a hint of crispness, but not be crunchy all the way.  Heat oil and fry the whole chillies and the garlic.  Cool and pound in a pestle and mortar.  Add the roasted peanuts and pound further till you have the texture in the pictures above.  Add salt and mix.  Toss this spiced mix with the cooked cluster beans and serve warm or at room temperature.

the meal
Served here with rose matta rice and sambar.

11 thoughts on “Gavar (Cluster Beans) with Peanuts

  1. We loved it. I added a little more peanuts but the recipe is a winner.

    I roast way more but they seem to disappear before it is time to add them to the bhaji!

  2. Anita I would call this gavar in thecha kinda dish. Very basic but so high on flavor. Anita try it with bhakari and a little more oil. Sangeeta yeah more peanuts for me too.

    It really is that! It would be good with bhakri – I still have bajra flour in the pantry! More peanuts for all! 🙂

  3. I made your marathi gavar bhaji and it was super hit. I do not have the spice blend anymore and was quite sad. I’ll make it with french beans. Thank you.

    When I don’t have the spice-mix, I just add more onions and garlic and red chilli! But this version doesn’t need any anyway!

  4. You are on a roll, aren’t you?!

    This recipe sounds like a good change from the same ol’ same ol’. Why are you afraid of peanuts?! I use them liberally. There are times when we even eat them by themselves. Imagine that! 😉

    I’ve never made gavar with peanuts though. In my family, gavar is always made with kale vatane (or a good substitute) or with pumpkin. Or by itself. Maybe it’s time to change that.

    It is a very good variation. Peanuts work very well in this. [Why do I think you had peanuts in your original recipe/] Did you notice I didn’t microwave the beans this time? 😉

    You’re right, more peanuts will make it even better. I do add some more as we site down to eat. I always roast about a cup but usually, by the time we sit down to eat (I try to add the peanuts just before serving so that they are at their crunchy best, otherwise I top them with an additional handful) they seem to be only be half of what I skinned! A strange phenomenon that I think even you have experienced.

    1. Oh and *makes mental note* to carry katoris for sambar and amtis on my next visit.

      Btw, I hope you’re using the cute strainer I gave you for your sheer chai.

      and plates – that one there in the picture look wuite battered!

      I have katoris for you, remember? Was just in the peasant-style-purist mood…

      And, yes, the strainer is hanging with all the other strainers that I use for the “Lipton chai”…sheer chai and kahva are a different matter altogether. I think that might have come from the fact that these have a lot many ground spices and almonds added (sometimes while boiling) and you don’t want to strain those out. Even though I add the almonds and saffron to the cups, it still feels right to not strain the tea! 🙂 Bound by tradition!

    2. Why would you microwave your gavar?! We don’t get the best gavar here but I prefer to cook it on the stove and have the beans absorb all the flavors.

      It just seems less work sometimes. But, steaming is simple enough.

  5. I just made gawar with ajwain and besan, salt and chilli powder. My sister-in-law who is visiting was v impressed! The cook at my parents’ home makes a great stir-fry keeping them whole, with crushed garlic, sambar karam and urad dal providing the crunch.

    “peeth perun” style!
    That will be another use for the sambar kaaram! I still think I will have to down-scale your recipe though.

  6. You’re back! Hooray! (I’m a lurker, who enjoys your blog enormously, but don’t think I’ve commented before – sorry – not stalking, honest!) Gawar is my father’s favorite bean and was consequently made very often at home until he decided to give it up at Gaya! You mention your love of SI preparations, so will mention that our family fav for gawar is Parippu usili, or with besan as a substitute…

    Hey, Maith. Thanks for sticking around! 🙂
    I have some usili mixture frozen from my previous batch (making a double batch is a very good thing!) and will try this variation the next time. What other veggies might be cooked this way?

    1. Veggies we use for PU include beans (the normal kind), cabbage, capsicum, banana flower (very time consuming, so only made when we have help to handle the banana flower), and snake gourd.

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