South Indian Green Beans (B)

October 28, 2006 at 5:59 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, Summer recipes, Vegetable dishes)

This is a recipe from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey. She says that the seasonings here are typical of India’s southeastern coast.

Serves 4.

  • 1 Tbs. salt plus 1/2 to 3/4 tsp.
  • 12 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • oil
  • 1/8 tsp. ground asafetida
  • 1 tsp. whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. urad dal
  • 2 dried, hot, red chilies
  • 8 to 10 fresh curry leaves, if available
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1//4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne powder

Bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 Tbs. of salt and the beans. Boil rapidly for 4 minutes, or until the beans are cooked through. Drain, and if not serving straight away, rinse under cold running water and drain. Set aside.

Just before serving, pour the oil into a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the asafetida, mustard seeds, urad dal, and chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds pop and the dal turns reddish, put in the curry leaves and then the beans. Turn off the heat. Toss the beans and mix well. Add the lemon juice, cayenne, and 1/2 to 3/4 of the remaining salt. Mix again. If the beans have not heated through, put them on very low heat until warmed through.

My Notes

This recipe, like many in this cookbook, has an error. She doesn’t include oil in the ingredient list. I used just a little. I steamed my beans rather than boiling them, left out the asafetida, and added more lemon juice. The dish was quite nice. The bright lemon flavors contrasted well with the dark roasted taste of the mustard seeds and urad dal. The curry leaves added their strong floral note. I’ll definitely try this again.

Rating: B


  1. Rhoda Xavier said,

    I love this recipe! My kids do not like green beans but they love this. I love the site, my husband is from Bangalore and I do alot of cooking of south India meals. I will be back there are other recipes I want to try ; )

  2. Supriya Raman said,

    I am so pleased I stumbled upon this site. As a fellow vegetarian, I wanted to drop by and say hello! I was born and brought up in South India, all the more exciting to see my home cooking being explored.

    Madhur Jaffrey I am afraid is not the one to follow for southern indian food. She is from the northen parts of India with phenomenal insight and expertise in northern/ eastern and western style of Indian cooking. But when it comes to Southern indian cooking there is so much unexplored and so few books published.

    Traditionally this beans is usually topped with grated fresh coconut and sauteed a few seconds before serving and is usually served with hot rice and savory vegetable stew called Sambar.

  3. captious said,

    Hi Supriya,

    If you have a South Indian cookbook you recommend, please let me know.


  4. Jaya said,

    This recipe isn’t entirely spot on, but it’s good. My family usually prepares it with the general procedure of popping the mustard, and frying the asafoetida and urad dal and red chilies. We might also add turmeric. We don’t usually use lemon, but we add a little grated coconut on top in the end. You should really try the asafoetida at least once. It brings out another tone of flavor to the beans.

    We don’t boil the beans, exactly. Fresh beans are added directly to the fried spices and mix together. Then, we add enough water for the beans, add enough salt and turmeric if needed, and we cover the area of the pan containing the beans to steam them through. The beans, in the end, should be cooked, but firm.

  5. captious said,

    Thanks Jaya for your suggestions. I’ll try the beans steamed instead of boiled.

  6. Ram said,

    Was just reading through you blog. I found a blog which gives excellent south indian recipes. See if you like it

    • captious said,

      Well, I have to admit I was a little turned off by the “brain fry.” That blog is pretty meaty!

  7. Jarred said,

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone
    to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own
    blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks

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