Vanpayar Thoran (Red Cowpeas Coconut Stir Fry)

Thoran (Stir fry with coconut) is something that I make very often. I'm sure it's a staple in most Kerala homes. Can you imagine a Kerala lunch without thoran? I think it's kinda blasphemous thing to do, a kerala lunch without thoran ;)

Payar thoran is a comfort food for me. Though am not a rice person, I find it hard to resist rice with payar thoran (be it cherupayar or vanpayar) and kachimoru. Add some pickle also, it's soul food!

At my place we make Cherupayar (green gram) thoran more often, so I also tend to do that. However I love vanpayar, I think it has a meaty texture and more depth of flavour than cherupayar.

This goes well with rice and kanji too.

Here is the recipe…

Vanpayar Thoran
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Vanpayar Thoran

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Author: Maria Jose Martin


  • 1 cup Vanpayar (Red Cowpeas)
  • 1 cup Grated coconut
  • 6 - 8 sliced Small / pearl onion
  • 1 tsp Chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Whole black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 2 Dry red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp Chilli powder
  • Salt
  • Curry leaves
  • 1 - 2 tbsp Coconut oil


  • Rinse the vanpayar under running water a few times. Pressure cook vanpayar with 3 cups water for 8 - 10 whistles on full flame. Switch off the gas and let the pressure drops. Open the cooker and strain the cooked vanpayar. Keep aside 1/4 cup of cooking water. 
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  • Crush together sliced small onions, chopped garlic, black pepper, fennel seeds and dry red chilli.
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  • Add turmeric and chilli powder to grated coconut. Mix well using your finger tips (njeraduka).
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  • Heat oil in a wide pan. Add crushed ingredients, curry leaves and cook till it browns and raw smell goes, around 4 - 5 mins. 
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  • Add coconut mixture and mix well. Cook for 3-4 mins.
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  • Add cooked vanpayar and salt. Mix well. Add reserved cooking water (refer notes) and cover and cook for 6 - 8 mins. Remove from fire. 
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I dont soak the vanpayar, hence longer cooking time. If you soak it, adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
I like a slightly mashed up texture for this thoran, so I add the cooking water. You can add or skip the cooking water depending on how you like the texture of payar. 
Tried this recipe? Let others know by...mentioning @mariasmenu or tagging #mariasmenu
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