Green Beans Poriyal
This dish from coastal Tamil Nadu is a poriyal, one of the most essential recipes for vegetables. It is the quickest and best tasting stir-fry that my friend T. makes—green beans or shredded cabbage flash cooked with a peppery masala and finished with a gentle shower of coconut shavings. There are some delicious variations on the basic recipe too--just scroll to the bottom of the page.
Serves 4 • Spice level: MEDIUM• Prep time: 5 min• Cooking time: 10 min
Coconut or vegetable oil
Fresh green beans
snipped, rinsed and drained
Unsweetened shredded coconut (dried, frozen or fresh)
(optional but recommended)
Salt (or to taste)
- Heat oil in a large (preferably cast-iron) skillet over high heat. Once hot and shimmering (it’s very important that the oil is hot at this stage) add the contents of Spice Sachet 1. The spices will pop almost immediately. Let it sizzle till you see the dry red chili getting darker, 30-60 seconds.
- Add the green beans and salt. Cook the beans, turning occasionally until blistered and charred in places, approx. 8-10 minutes.
- Add the Spice Sachet 3 and decrease the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender yet crunchy, 2-3 minutes. Keep some water nearby and add 1-2 tbsp at a time if you feel it’s sticking to the pan.
- Add Spice Sachet 2 (lentils) and cook another 2 minutes. Gently fold in the coconut, saving some for garnish.
Remove whole red chillies to avoid biting into them by mistake. Taste for salt—I invariably add ⅛ to ¼ tsp more—and serve hot!
Unsweetened shredded coconut: Traditionally coconut shavings are added to this dish, but if it is unavailable or you don’t like the taste, you can leave it out. I usually buy frozen packets of freshly grated coconut from the Indian store, which keeps for a long, long time in the freezer.
This dish is best when freshly made!
Broccoli Poriyal: Broccoli is not a vegetable traditionally used in India, but it works really well. Use 1 lb broccoli florets instead of the beans. When I make broccoli I like to first plunge it in boiling water, drain immediately and put it in a bowl of ice water to keep its brilliant green color before stir frying.
Beans Poriyal with Shrimp: An incredibly easy and delicious variation on the Poriyal with green beans: just add ¼ to ⅓ lb uncooked shrimp (peeled and cleaned) when you add Spice Sachet 3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through and the beans are tender yet crunchy, about 3-4 minutes.