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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Vegetable Curry.jpg

South Indian Vegetable Curry

A classic South Indian recipe combining thinly-sliced green beans with coconut and a hint of chile. Perfect with Kerala Chicken Curry. Visit the Why Did the Chicken Cross the Globe? series that inspired this recipe.

Serves 4-6 with leftovers.


South Indian Vegetable Curry made in the Adventure Kitchen

South Indian Vegetable Curry made in the Adventure Kitchen

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)

Slicing the green beans into small diagonal pieces.

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. 

Mise en place (prepped ingredients, at the ready) for South Indian Vegetable Curry. This is the kind of dish where you'll find it helpful to have everything ready before you start to cook.

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!

Ingredient notes:

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.