Edited on 01/07/2021 to include more information and to make it reader friendly. 🙂
Kale Thoran is a healthy accompaniment to rice, a simple stir fry prepared in the South Indian style.
Kale leaves was something I got introduced to after moving to the US. I love the hardy texture of the leaves. They are not just good in smoothies, or as Kale chips - I use them a lot in my Indian cooking too.
This is a typical method of preparing the thoran or stir fry in Kerala. It is such a simple, but elegant dish, that I make it with chard leaves, collard greens and of course Kale leaves.
what are the ingredients required to make kale thoran?
Kale thoran is a simple stir fry made in Kerala style. A simple sauté with some spices and garnished with coconut. This comes together pretty quickly.
- Kale leaves
- Oil (coconut oil for authentic taste)
- cumin seeds/Jeera
- mustard seeds
- turmeric powder
- garlic cloves
- whole red chillies
- Grated coconut
How to prepare kale leaves to use in the thoran?
I usually get kale leaves as a bunch from my local grocer. Wash them well under running water and finely chop them.
I have see frozen & frozen kale leave. You can use them as such - no need to thaw them before use.
Sometimes, the stem becomes too hard to be used in the stir fry. Do not discard the stems, but peel the thick outer layer and use the stems in this Mangalore-an style Chawli Koddel.
Spices used in kale thoran
These spices are pretty common and easily available in your pantry.
Cumin Seeds are widely used in Indian cooking either as seeds or as fine powder. For this recipe, we use the whole seeds. They impart a unique earthy flavor as well aid in digestion.
Mustard Seeds are also common in an Indian pantry. These are tiny seeds of the mustard plants. For south Indian style stir frys, usually, the whole black mustard seeds are used. They are added to the hot oil and wait until they start to pop, before proceeding with the next step. Mustard seeds., though small are nutrient-packed.
Turmeric Powder or haldi is another one of the commonly used spices in Indian cooking. Here we use to kind of preserve the bright green color of the kale leaves. Turmeric with its bright yellow color brightens up the green kale leaves.
Whole red chillies - I like to either use broken whole red chillies or red chilli flakes in this recipe. Adjust to taste. For a milder palate, use less than the quantity suggested in the recipe. The heat imparted to the dish also depends on the type of red chillies used. I typically use Byadagi chillies (which are comparatively mild but do have a nice bright red color) for most of my south Indian style cooking.
Garlic - Use some finely chopped garlic for enahcnced flavor. If you are planning a no onion-no garlic menu, you can skip this.
Coconut - Coconut in Kale thoran….. I have to tell you about this!
About the quantity of coconut - no one and I say no one measures coconut while using it in thoran in Kerala. It is always eyeballed. Enough is never enough. 🙂
Of course the fresh is the best. If you don’t get fresh coconut, you can use frozen and thawed coconut. When I am trying to stretch the coconut till my next trip to the Indian grocery store, I have also used dried unsweetened coconut.
If you are using dried unsweetened coconut , add it while there is some liquid in the thoran. That way the flakes will absorb some of that and rehydrate.
Equipment need to prepare the kale thoran
This is a simple day to day dish in South Indian households. No special equipment/utensils is required for the same.
- Large skillet
- Cooking spoon
- Measuring cups/spoons (optional if you can eyeball the ingredients)
- Serving bowl and spoons
what to serve with kale thoran?
A typical South Indian meal consists of mainly
- Vegetable Stir fry(s)
- Fish (optional) or chicken
Curry needs a special mention - curry as in something of gravy dish and not in the sense it is used around the world. 🙂 The gravy dish is mixed with rice and eaten with the stir frys and fish and/or chicken as the accompaniment. A few examples of curry served in a South Indian meal are Sambhar, Moru Curry, Koddel, etc. It tastes nice with apple pulissery also. Looking for a chicken dish to serve? Try this simple chicken roast.
Leftovers can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator 2-3 days. Reheat thoroughly either on stove top or in a microwave.
More green leafy vegetable recipes
- Have you tried the wild rice and garbanzo bean combination? One of the most popular recipes on the blog.
- If you like kale, you might like mustard greens too. Try mustard leaves with chana dal.
- Looking for a different style spinach recipe? Try this Konkani dish spinach ambat.
- 1 CUP = 250 ML. (US cups are typically 240 ml. You can use US cups with no significant change to the dish)
- 1 TEASPOON= 5 ML; 1 TABLESPOON= 15 ML
- Grams to cups measurements – we strive to provide these conversions as accurately as possible. There might be some slight variations depending on the brand, weighing scale, etc.
- The serving size is 4 as an accompaniment. Adjust the serving size to your individual dietary needs.
- Thoran is served as an accompaniment to rice along with other gravy dishes.
- if the leaves taste bitter (especially Kale and Collard Greens), adding a pinch of tamarind pulp while cooking helps remove the bitterness.
- Adding turmeric and cooking uncovered helps retain the bright green color.
- If there is not enough moisture to cook the leaves, then sprinkle a little water and cook the leaves through.
What is your favorite South Indian dish? Let us know in comments.
- 2 bunches about 12 oz/300-350 grams Kale leaves; washed & finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon Oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/Jeera
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric/Haldi
- 2 garlic cloves; medium-sized; roughly chopped
- 2 - 3 whole red chillies adjust to taste; you could also use chilli flakes
- ¼ cup coconut fresh or frozen & thawed or unsweetened dried
- Salt to taste
- Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.
- Splutter mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
- Add garlic cloves and fry till slightly brown and aromatic.
- Halve the whole red chillies and add it to the oil.
- Add the chopped kale leaves and turmeric and mix well.
- Add salt and cook uncovered till the leaves are cooked through.
- Garnish with coconut and serve hot.
This recipe is definitely going into my normal rotation. It’s the best kale recipe I’ve ever had, and it’s so delicious and quick to make! I’m new to using the mustard & cumin seeds and was worried I messed it up, but the end result was great. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!
Thank you so much for your feedback. This is a regular at home.
Parvathy Thampi says
This is a great recipe for kale. I had tried different ways but couldn’t get rid of the bitter taste of kale. Adding the tamarind pulp is brilliant!! Love this recipe, it’s become a staple in my home!!
Framed Recipes says
Thank you so much for your feedback! Glad you like the recipe. It is a staple at our home too. <3
The first few paragraphs made me smile; this is a well written post! Now, this kale thoran is stuck in my mind, I'm sure I will try it soon. 🙂
Framed Recipes says
Thanks Apsara. :).