Clove beans / Kaambhu Kathrikkai

Clove beans / Kaambhu Kathrikkai




Hindu Metroplus , Stalk talking

Kaambhu kathirikkai
Kaambu Kathirikkai the Hindu

A veggie that looks like a cross between a tiny brinjal stalk and a gigantic jasmine bud ! ‘How very unusual’ ,was my first thought when my friend Divya of foodshrink blog,sent me this pic ! I carried on with my day and soon forgot about this vegetable ,called Kaambhu kathirikkai. This was the name by which our local ,enterprising vegetable vendor Rajathi ,reffered to it as ! Hence ,that’s the name Divya and I went by ! It was only a few days later when she sent me some did my curiosity actually get piqued further !On trying to locate it on the world wide web , I was completely flummoxed on not find anything to go with this name. It was only after my article in the Hindu ,that so many folk came up with the various names for this tiny vegetable ! I cannot tell you how overwhelming it was to receive mails from people of all ages. An elderly gentleman had apparently eaten it as a young boy while growing up in Madurai and he was happy to have the chance to savour it again after all these years. After looking at the picture ,my friend Laju said they were known as clove beans in English and nithya vazhuthana in Malayalam. Lo and behold ,when I typed those names on Google,a whole new array of recipes and facts were revealed ! An aunt remembered it being sold as mukkuthi avarrai decades ago ! The enthusiasm that this article brought out from folks both known and unknown was very gratifying indeed !

It’s the best feeling to interact with people and gain a wealth of knowledge to pass on to the young ! When I first introduced my kitchen help and others to this ‘stalky’ veg,I pretended not to notice the stunned glances of disbelief and “has she finally lost it ?!?” expressions !!! Yep,this one little veg has led me on to have quite a few interesting experiences and conversations ! I will always be thankful to Divya for that !

Rajathi veg vendor

The other thing that continues to amaze me is how Rajathi manages to find out about unusual vegetables that we no longer find easily in our markets. She gives credit to her mother who apparently only ate according to the season and dealt only in forgotten country produce. She is a hard worker with a broad beaming smile ,not just for me but for most passer bys. No scales for this street vendor. She prefers her well used ‘paddi’ to measure her wares. Rajathi was quite amused when I told her the English name. She said she preferred to stick to calling it ‘kaambhu kathirrika’ as that’s how it was known in the farms and villages . This cheerful lady has a few farmers who grow her requests on a small portion of their lands,in and around Coimbatore. She is sure that she will never deviate from this practice and has no interest ,at the moment in selling other produce ! She has been an inspiration to me with regard to maintaining self worth by showing pride in her work and belief in her knowledge. With the hope that she will always remain thus,she has found in me ,a faithful customer !

Kaambhus no katthirikkai

It takes a bit of getting used to ,to deftly remove the bud without damaging the sepals of the stalk. It looks pretty when cooked whole like that ! It keeps quite well for about 5 days in the refrigerator. Clean it when time permits and store. Then you can use it as and when required in various recipes. I also substituted these for brinjal in a brinjal rice and they were just as yummy. By the end of January , I want to explore as many recipesΒ  as possible with these clove beans !

At first as Rajathi suggested ,we did try out a puzhi kozhambhu with the stalks. It was absolutely delicious and the whole family loved it. The stalks cook down to an almost buttery consistency ,like a tender baby brinjal. It does not have the slight bitterness that sometimes brinjals have. It was absolutely perfect. Since it was seasonal ,locally grown and very tasty ,we decided to experiment with it a little more.That’s how the recipe for clove beans with potato came about and it has become a favourite on our week day lunch menu !We will definitely miss this veggie when it’s not in season ! I do hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have writing it ! Please leave a comment ,even a smiley to show you’ve stopped by and would like to visit again ! Ta !!!


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30 Responses to Clove beans / Kaambhu Kathrikkai

  1. Sra January 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    I think this is one of the most unusual vegetables I’ve come across. I haven’t even heard of it. I saw your recipe too. Most fascinating!

    • Shanthini Rajk January 19, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

      Thanks. It is unusually delicious both in appearance and taste πŸ™‚

  2. Shakuntala Varadharaj January 22, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    It feels really nice to know about all our forgotten seasonal vegetables through you. I’ am very interested in making all our original traditional type home cooking. I have heard about this Kaambhu Kathirikai thru a old lady from pollachi, but haven’t had the chance to actually see it or rather taste it. Thanks for showing this vegetable. Will try your recipe soon.

    • Shanthini Rajk January 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

      Thanks for adding your comment. Do try ,it really is delicious πŸ™‚

  3. ChitraKrishnaswamy January 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    It’s really interesting to see this vegetable, I have not heard about this before. Let me try to get the seeds and grow in my terrace… Thanks Shanthini

    • Shanthini Rajk January 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      It’s delicious in both gravy and poriyal. My friend who grew it at home says it attracts the “blanket bugs” !!! Thanks for posting !

  4. padma February 8, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Please.tell me where exactly Rajathi sells her veggies. Name of the closest bus stand would help. I live near Thudiyalur.Thanks. Enjoy your articles in the metro plus

    • Shanthini Rajk February 19, 2015 at 9:46 am #

      Hi Padma.Thanks very much. Rajathi sells her wares near Axis Bank on Vysyal street at Town hall.She is very easy to find.

  5. Marian April 6, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    I foung it growing in Australia. May be somebody brought in from Kerala. Thanks for giving the local name.

    • Shanthini Rajk April 9, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      I think it is grown in your area too Marian . Thanks for letting me know. Do try out the recipe πŸ™‚

    • Kavithaa April 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

      Where in Australia ? Would love to try it:)) n what’s it called here

      • Shanthini Rajk April 24, 2015 at 11:24 am #

        It’s called clove beans or purple moonflower in english. Not sure about where to source it in Australia though πŸ™‚

  6. shyama June 13, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    Please post the link or date details of the article written in Hindu – would like to know other local names, as well.

  7. shyama June 13, 2015 at 12:10 am #

    Please post a link to the article in The Hindu – or repost that article. Would like to know other local names.

  8. October 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm #


    • Shanthini Rajkumar October 9, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      Thank you for the information

  9. harkesh kumar December 27, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    i am require clove bean sheds 9711800215

    • Shanthini Rajkumar December 30, 2016 at 8:08 am #

      I have mentioned Rajathi’s number. You can contact her πŸ™‚

  10. Ananth Sundararajan October 4, 2017 at 2:21 am #

    I am 80 now, and I live in Norman, Oklahoma since 1976. When I was about 5 during 1942, I ate sauteed cove beans ( Moohhuthikai) in my grandma’s house in Anagarai village ( Trichy district). d I tried to get this vegetable, but couldn’t. Every time I visited India, I tried to get the seeds for Mookkuthikai (clove beans) but was not successful. In spite of being ridiculed by my friends and relatives, I never gave up my efforts to get the seeds for this unusual vegetable. About 6 months ago, I was able to get a few seeds from a Ebay seller from Kerala. I planted them pronto, and I will have a good harvest of this fine vegetable in October 2017, and of course I will save a few seeds fro future use.

    I am looking forward to experience the joy of tasting the clove bean curry after nearly 75 years!

    • Shanthini Rajkumar October 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing your heartwarming memory! Enjoy your harvest πŸ™‚

      • Ananth Sundararajan October 22, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

        I have great success growing this unusual vegetable. I picked up about 2 pounds last week, and they taste great when used as brinjal (eggplant).

        This vegetable has a peculiarity. When cut from the vine, the stem oozes out a milky white sap. Is this normal? Generally milky white sap from plants is toxic. I was worried about this and contacted a few a few keralites living in Oklahoma. All of them assured me that this is normal and the white sap is not poisonous.

        • Dr. Ananth Sundararajan October 27, 2017 at 8:36 am #

          Unfortunately, I have some bad news to tell about this unusual vegetable, Clove beans. I had a good harvest, but what I fared about the white milky sap from the stem has come true. This vegetable can be toxic to some people. My wife felt nauseated and vomited after eating sauteed clove beans. I had an upset stomach, and I had to take some antacid and anti-gas tablets. So please be careful in using this vegetable.

          • Shanthini Rajkumar November 12, 2017 at 8:39 pm #

            Sorry to hear that.Are you sure it was the same vegetable.Because, we did not experience any milky sap from the stalk ,the many times that we have cooked it. Only the stalk part is edible as you may know,the vegetable part must be removed completely before cooking.

          • jeya narayan March 26, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

            I have been curious about growing this too in Texas. After several unsuccessful attempts to get seeds finally was able to get some from an online contact and growing it. Just curious because someone had mentioned that what is grown as lavender/purple moonflower in US is very close but however when eaten they had a slight stomach upset. Am wondering if what you got were moonflower seeds or the clove bean from India. I will try to be careful too. Thanks for the warning…

          • Shanthini Rajkumar March 27, 2018 at 9:00 am #

            The purple moonflower to my knowledge is quite different from the clove bean πŸ™‚ As long as only the stalks are used completely devoid of the bud in the centre, the clove beans do not cause any stomach ailment and are rather high in health benefits.Thank you for your thoughts .

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