South Indian Vegetable Curry
Serves 4-6 with leftovers.
1 Tablespoon canola or other neutral cooking oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida ( available in Indian stores, see notes)
5-6 curry leaves (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1-2 small hot green chiles (see picture and notes), trimmed and split lengthwise
1 pound green beans, trimmed and sliced diagonally into thin fingernail-sized pieces
1/2 cup raw, unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (plus a pinch more if needed, to taste)
Instead of all green beans, another option is to use a combination of equal parts green beans, white cabbage and carrots, to display the colors of the Indian flag in the dish. If you do this, slice the carrots thinly on the bias and begin cooking them a minute or two before adding the green beans and cabbage (since they take longer to cook).
1. Choose a very large skillet or large pan, with a lid. Warm the pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. When oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover the pan. The seeds will begin to pop vigorously. Shake the pan periodically as they do, so that they don't burn. This will all take just about 1 minute.
2. When the popping has subsided, remove the lid and stir in the chile, curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida for about 10 seconds. Stir in the green chiles and salt and turn the heat to medium-low. Stir in 4 Tablespoons water and cover. Steam the beans in the pan for about 7-8 minutes, until tender and cooked through.
3. When beans are cooked, stir in the coconut, allowing it to take on a slightly golden color from the turmeric. When the coconut is well incorporated, taste and add a pinch more salt if needed. Serve. The lucky person gets the chile!
Asafoetida - a very unique Indian spice. If you can't find it, just leave it out.
Curry leaves can be found at Indian markets. If you can't find them, you can just leave them out.
The chiles to use for this are about the size of your pinky finger, and hot. They may be labeled "Asian hot chiles" or "green Thai chiles" in some stores. If you can't find them, you can substitute a serrano or jalapeno chile, sliced lengthwise into quarters (serrano) or sixths (jalapenos). Two quarters of a serrano, or two-sixths of a jalapeno, are roughly equivalent to one Indian chile.
Thank you to Bhavani Balasubramanian for the original version of this recipe.