Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry

This Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry is a lovely and simple vegetable dish combining fresh beans, spices and coconut milk.

Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry

The first time I found snake beans (also known as yard-long beans and cowpeas) in a local Chinese supermarket I used them in a classic Thai pad krapow. They taste a lot like green beans (French beans) but have a crunchier texture. I’ve never seen them in one of our big supermarket chains, but it’s worth searching in Asian grocery stores or ordering via specialist online retailers.

Alternatively, use regular green beans and reduce the cooking time a touch to retain crunch.

Snake beans-Yard Long Beans- Cowpeas

This recipe is from Peter Kuruvita’s beautiful cookbook Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen , a fantastic collection of traditional Sri Lankan curries, side dishes, snacks and desserts. Read our full review of Peter Kuruvita’s Serendip.

Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry
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5 from 1 vote

Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry

This is such a tasty curry and as far as I am concerned, the best way to deal with the unusual flavour that a snake (yard-long) bean has. When selecting snake beans, choose ones that are nice and stiff with the seeds tightly held in the skin. You should also look for a lovely purple tip on the ends of the beans.
Author Peter Kuruvita


  • 350 g (12 oz) snake (yard-long) beans, washed and cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths
  • 2 small green chillies, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves, leaves picked
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) coconut cream


  • Toss the beans in a bowl with all the ingredients except the oil and coconut cream. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Add the bean mixture and stir for 5 minutes, then add the coconut cream, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cream has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt.


Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry

Note: that the book suggests the recipe serves 6, which may work if you serve it as one dish amongst several others, but it made the right amount for two of us to share alongside pineapple curry and rice.

Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry

Made the recipe? Let us know how you enjoyed it in the comments!

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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Peter Kuruvita’s Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen from publishers Murdoch Books. Recipe published with permission. Photography by Alan Benson. 

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4 Comments to "Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry"

  1. Mim

    I love long beans. I always buy them if I see them – at worst they’ll go in a simple Burmese salad. They never go to waste.


    I usually only see them in Asian grocery shops, last ones I bought were from Wai Yee Hong in Bristol, and before that from Loon Fung in Colindale, London. Once lockdown is over, we’ll be able to get to the right shops to buy again!!

  2. Snigdha (Snig's Kitchen)

    Hi Kavey,
    I always love the look of the yard long beans when I see them in the Chinese grocery shop. I can’t explain why. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I am always looking for fresh vegetable inspiration!
    With love,


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