Ker is a green berry like fruit of a thorny bush(capparis decidua) found in the arid parts of Rajastnan.It is very sour, and is commonly available during the months of April and May. Ker is a small moderate sized evergreen thorny tree, with slender branches armed with conical thorns and with light bluish-green foliage. The leaflets are dark green with thin casting of light shade. Although they belong to the same family as beans and lentils, they are usually distinguished as a separate group because of the ways in which they are prepared. The different types of ker are all spherical and small in size, similar to radish pods,a feature that also sets them apart from beans and lentils. Dried ker are produced by harvesting the pods when they are fully mature and then drying them. Once they are dried and the skins removed, they may split naturally.
Fresh Ker has to be put in an earthen utensil or preferably a matka in salt water for 15 days so that it looses its sourness. After two weeks the salt water is thrown away and the vegetable is dried in shade to be stored for the rest of the year or to be cooked right then. Because of its numerous medicinal qualities ker is also used in many ayurvedic medicines.
Soaked ker- Whole ker needs to be soaked in cold water for at least 6-8 hours before cooking, while broken ker do not need this extra preparation.
How to select
Dried ker beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. They are available as whole beans or cracked or broken beans. In Jaipur you can buy fresh ker from Choti Choupar. (The traders go to the extent of sorting ker by size as the smaller berries are considered to be tastier) Local Pansari shops in the walled city provide dried ker all the year round. Regardless of packaging, check the ker as best as possible to ensure that they are not cracked and that they are free of debris.
" Use ker beans to make dhal, the classic Indian dish.
" Ker Sangri is one of the most mouth-watering delicacies of Jaisalmer. Ker Sangri is a popular vegetarian dish prepared by saking the ker and sangria beans in curd and then cooked on low heat with spice powders. The ingredients that goes into this dish are desert beans and capers. This vegetarian delicacy can be best enjoyed with Bajara roti
" The ker pachadi or pickle is easy to prepare and makes for a tasty chutney recipe also. Ker pachadi or toor dhal chutney is served with rice, dosa or idly.
How to store
Store the dried ker beans in air tight container in a cool, dry place and use within 6-8 months.
" Ker acts as a cooling anthelmintic; tonic, cures leprosy, dysentery, bronchitis, asthma, leucoderma, piles and tremors of the muscles.