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Healthy Vegetarian Foods

Gadra (Borlotti) Beans

I did a post late last year about “Double Beans”, and “Gadra Beans” (as Indians refer to it) is a distant cousin of the Double Beans, (yes we Indians have lots of cousins and very strong family ties). While preparing this post I was watching TV with my son and I just mentioned that I want to Google “gadra beans” to get more info about it for my post and he said “if it does not have a white name it does not exist on Google”, wanting to prove a point-I did use the words “gadra beans” and yes came up with nothing-so I tried “variety of fresh beans” and “VOILA” I saw the colourful beans in all its glory, but it was called “Borlotti Beans”, “Cranberry Beans” and “French Horticultural Beans” and to my amazement it said it was most popular in Italian and Portuguese Cuisine and no mention of Indian Cuisine. At this point I was a bit upset (because they did not mention Indian Cuisine) but I was also glad because I could prove to my son that yes these glorious beans were not only popular amongst us (Indians from Stanger-Stanger being my place of birth and where I spent my childhood).


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 Gadra (Borlotti) beans come in a cream coloured pod that has beautiful pink and purple markings on it (the pods are not edible), once shelled you will find the little jewelled beans that have a nutty flavour, creamy texture and the cherry on the top is that it is a good source of protein and it has a whole host of other nutrients. These wonderful beans are commonly available in Kwa Zulu Natal, however now with Pick ‘n Pay and Foodlovers Market trying to cater for a wider spectrum of shoppers you sometimes find it in these stores. I generally cook this as a curry (unfortunately all its colour and jewel like designs are lost in the cooking process) and serve it with hot rotis, basmati rice, papadums and a kachoomer salad.  You can also steam them and add them to an Asian leaf salad, you could use them in a Three Bean salad, and you can just eat them as a healthy snack instead of peanuts. Any which way you use them you are going to enjoy them and be dazzled with their jewel like beauty.


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Gadra (Borlotti) Beans

30ml cooking oil

250ml finely grated onion

6-7 curry leaves

1-2 fresh red chillies

5ml crushed fennel seeds

5ml ginger and garlic paste

2 cloves garlic finely chopped/sliced

10ml coriander powder

2ml turmeric powder

5ml chilli flakes

125ml grated tomatoes

45ml tomato paste

500ml peeled gadra (borlotti) beans

5ml salt (to taste)

45ml chopped fresh coriander (for flavour and garnish)

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  1. Heat oil in a heavy based pot, add the onions – allow to brown, add the curry leaves, chillies and fennel seeds and cook for a few seconds
  2. Lower heat, stir the mixture and add the ginger/garlic paste, sliced garlic and powder spices and allow this to cook for a few minutes
  3. Add the gadra (borlotti) beans and cover pot and allow simmer till the beans are soft and tender (about 35-45 minutes) before adding the tomatoes and tomato paste
  4. Once the tomatoes and tomato paste are added allow the mixture to cook for a further 15-20minutes on low heat, and this will allow all of the flavours to come together.
  5. Alternately use a pressure cooker instead of a pot, and follow the same steps as above, but you can add the tomatoes and beans all at once and bring to a boil and cover the pressure cooker and attach the whistle and allow to cook for about 5 whistles or 5minutes before switching the stove off
  6. Once the cooker has cooled, remove the lid and season with salt and coriander leaves
  7. Serve with whole wheat rotis, or basmati rice and a fresh kachoomer salad and some papadums


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  • You can also add fresh peas and baby potatoes to this curry- double the measurements for the spices and add the peas and potatoes when you add the beans and allow to cook till tender before adding the tomatoes and tomato paste








Comments: 27

  • 28/01/2013

    I love that your site is so healthy Usha. It makes me feel better just reading what you make. thank you for sharing the recipe. I will try it soon 🙂

  • 28/01/2013

    I buy the tinned beans from woolies as we eat a lot of them 🙂

    • 28/01/2013

      I also keep the tin ones, but the fresh ones are just so much nicer, and when it is available i buy a whole lot–shell them & freeze them

  • 04/05/2013

    So pleased that you fixed the Google omission! I just bought some gadra beans at my Spar, came home and googled them to find out how to cook them, and your post popped up.

    • 07/05/2013

      thank you, did not know there was a problem–.
      Hope you found my recipe easy to use and the dish was tasty

  • Rosana


    Couple years ago I did a google search for the same and came up with the same results mentioned by yourself. I’ve been at my wits end trying to find these beans in the United States. Finally found the dried version un the Cranberry name at a Fresh Produce. Well Lo and Behold, on a trip to Houston recently, I found these gems at an Indian Store. I showed to it my Inlaws who are from Gujarat and they never heard to ate these beans before. I was in heaven to have finally found the fresh stuff. You wouldn’t believe this, but I even found fresh ripe jackfruit there as well.

    • 10/05/2013

      Well i do hope my post on Gadra Beans helped you. I am Gujarathi but born and brought up in South Africa. When i visited Gujarat–the people there do not eat any beans–no butter beans, gadra beans or even the red canadian wonder!!.
      Segments of ripe jackfruit make wonderful chilli bites.
      Thanks for visiting my site

  • Mohammed


    Since i saw this beans in one of my friends house i visited recently, in a rich look and shape, i was earger to know details about. i searched it in different super market racks but didnt found.

    • 10/02/2014

      Hi you mostly find them in specialist green grocers -who cater for the Indian community. If you live in South Africa–you sometimes get it at Food Lovers market, Pick & Pay, or Checkers

  • indra


    hi..thanks for the info.i planted some seeds that look like sugar beans…thinking it was gadra beans..please help

    • 10/02/2014

      i found the best way to plant them was allow the fresh gadra beans to dry out and use those seeds to plant. once they start growing they look like green bean pods–have to let these pods dry on the tree and then harvest them—this is what i did & was happy with my quarter cup of harvested beans

  • Jennifer Farland


    I saw an advert for Garda Beans at Oxford Freshmarket and it was the answer to long searching. I then Googled it and found your post. My mother used to grow them and I always enjoyed them but could find none to plant. I thought they were called broad beans. Thank you for all your information. I shall buy some and hopefully grow my own.

    • 06/04/2014

      Thank you for visiting my blog and hope you have a good crop

  • Zain


    Brilliant post Usha. Gadra beans is my favorite beans. Just that you should describe its relation to green beans and sugar beans.

    I have planted some sugar beans and harvested some for green beans. left the green beans to mature and voila, i have gadra beans

  • kiru


    Shelled two kilos gadra while watching TV last night. Now I am going to cook some of it using your recipe. Many thanks

    • 26/05/2015

      oh wow -2kgs now can you please tell me if you got this gadra in Gauteng? because i would love to get my hands on some gadra. Please do let me know how the dish turns out.

      • HJ Steyn


        Greetings Usha

        I am Jurie Steyn and I am involved in Agriculture Research and small scale farmer assistance in Jozini area, Northern KZN.

        We can produce a lot of Gadra but we need a market.
        Gadra has a place in our farming setup as we can plant now in August and have Gadra end of October to middle December. I believe we can produce Gadra and have it on the market April to December.

        We can market it while still in the pod form for about R7 to R10 a kg of pods or we can try to remove the beans from the pods for about R20 a kg of cleaned beans.

        As I say we are looking for a market.

        Would you be interested. ?

        If you are interested you can call me on
        Cell. 082 898 5471.

        Thanks very much

        Kind regards

        Jurie Steyn

        • 01/08/2020

          Thank you so much for being in touch and appreciate your insight – however i am not a vendor – but i know 95% of Indians in Johannesburg ( i am based in Johannesburg) will be ready to buy these pink and white jewels. It is generally sold in the pod to keep it fresher

  • Michele


    I know this is all things vegetarian but the gadhra beans peaked my interest. I add gadhra beans when cooking “fresh”cornish chicken especially on a wood fire. Delicious! In Gauteng find at Nagiahs in Midrand or Food Lovers. Also out in Lenasia South.

    • 01/06/2017

      Michele, thanks for visiting my site & yes the site is about vegetarian foods, but a lot of the dishes are adaptable with non vegetarian meals.

  • Hamid Shsik


    Wow m definitely going to try your recipe ..1 question though could I use some water to make it gravy like sugar bean..?

    • 03/06/2020

      thanks, and yes you can however add a little at a time as you want your gravy to be thick and flavorful

  • Moosa Peer


    Tell us more about the whole wheat roti and how to keep them soft or should they be only eaten straight from the thawa.
    We would prefer the cook sitting on the same table setting.

    • 02/08/2021

      Hi Moosa, thanks for your comment – with regards to the whole wheat rotli – firstly it is always a good idea to use 1 part white bread flour to two parts brown bread flour and then it to keep them soft don’t press down with a spatula – and keep the cooked rotis in a tin with a small pot rack inside – so the rotlis do not get soggy and keep them covered with a kitchen towel and the tin lid till you ready to eat – hopefully these tips help. Also, a good idea to pop in the microwave just before serving

  • Hemlatta Perumal Singh


    Gadra n doubla beans are our family favorite. I actually didn’t know it had an English name. We are always stocked with it. Even our kids love it n cook in their homes. Gafra goes well with a number of dishes. One of my favorite it watercress n gadra and cornish curry with gadra. Double beans is so tasty even with just potatoes.

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