This Sri Lankan Snake Bean Curry is a lovely and simple vegetable dish combining fresh beans, spices and coconut milk.
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.
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
- 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
- 2½ 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.
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.
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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.