Muthira Thoran/ Horse Gram/ Indian Brown Lentils Stir-fry

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  While growing up I didn’t care much about Muthira//Kollu / Kanam/ horse gram/Indian brown lentils. When mom cooked it, both mom and dad would enjoy the dish, both I and sister will go for only sweets. Now after reading its health benefits, and trying to find low carbohydrate food to include in the menu, I am using these long lost good lentils.

You can only find this brown lentils/Horse gram in Indian store.  Horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum) belongs to legume family found only in the tropics and subtropics, grown mostly under dry-land agriculture.  It is native of India. It is also used as fodder to horses. Horse gram is excellent source of iron and molybdenum.  Only drawback is that it requires longer cooking time, but you can solve that problem by use of pressure cooker. I soaked them overnight and the next morning I pressure cooked until 5 whistles. After cooling and draining the water, I used it to make stir fry. 
Even though this lentils is lesser know to western world, it is commonly used in Indian cooking, and in my home state there is even a proverb “”Kanam Vittum Onam Unnanam” which means “We should have the Thiruvonam lunch even if we have to sell all horse gram” which shows the importance of the grand lunch on the Thiruvonam day.” we needs to celebrate Onam (famous harvest festival). In other parts of country, it is used to make curries, sweets, and also eaten with boiled rice during wedding.  It is a major pulse crop in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
According to Ayurveda (traditional Indian Natural medicine), this grain used to treat cough, breathing trouble, ulcers and worm infection and excessive sweating. It is also helpful in reducing kidney stones, rheumatism and hypertension,   bowl hemorrhage and piles. It is also know to have antioxidant and diuretic effect.  Read more from here and here.   It is known to help in weight loss. However it is not good for pregnant women.
If you ask me about the taste, I will say it is slightly strong, bitter, legume/lentil which requires acquired taste. If you roast them, and cook them with spices they will be taste great. Without spices it may be bland. You can try it as your favorite lentil salad however adds some extra spices of your choice.
This stir-fry is easy to make: first soak overnight, and cook it the next morning. Then with touch of coconut oil, garlic, spices and fresh coconut mix in the cooked lentils. My hubby told me it is even nice to eat just like as such. But I prefer to serve as sides.
If you are little adventurous, and looking to try something new, healthy and also delicious, grab a bag of Horse gram from Indian store and try it. Next time I am planning to make chutney and rasam (a kind of soup) with it. So tune in for more recipes with Muthira/Horse gram.
Here comes the recipe.
Print Recipe from here
Muthira/Kollu/Kanam/Horse Gram/Indian Brown lentils Stir-fry with Coconut and Spices
Preparation time:5 minutes, + overnight soaking time
Cook time :  40 minutes
Yield: 4 serving
3/4 cup Muthira/Kollu/Kanam/Horse Gram/Indian Brown lentils
½ Cup  Onion ( chopped finely)
1/2  cup Coconut
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1/2  teaspoon Red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 tablespoon  Urad dal/ split black gram
2 no Red chilies
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon Coconut oil
3 cup water
2 sprig curry leaves.
How I made
  • Wash and soak the horse gram for overnight, next morning, cook them with 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker for about 4-5 whistles and set aside.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, urad dal and halved red chilies, when mustard seeds start splutter add chopped onion, garlic and green chili and fry for about 4-5 minutes. Then add cooked horse gram/brown lentils.
  • To this add turmeric powder, salt and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Then add coconut, cumin powder and red chili powder and mix once and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and enjoy with rice and gravy.


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  1. says

    Definitely a new lentil to me!! Looks yum and inviting.
    I’m sure it is a super healthy thoran!! Also love the fact that, it has low carbohydrate!

  2. says

    Lovely though I don’t really worry so much about eating healthy. I am in for spicy flavors and with the ingredients you have added into this dish, its the attractive taste that I adore.

  3. says

    Even though I’m not a big lentil fan, this looks quite delicious! I love the idea of stirfried lentils. And of course your seasoning is awesome!

  4. says

    Great pictures! I have never had these before – I wish I could stop over and try your delicious version Swathi! You are so good at using that pressure cooker.