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Sri Lankan snake bean curry - with coconut-pandanus rice

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

Snake beans, also called as yard long or long beans originated in Asia and are used in across many Asian cuisines. These beans are now being seen in some Asian and Indian grocery stores and farmers markets. The young and tender beans are thinner and a bright green, they have not yet started getting a brown stripe on them, those are the ones you want..

I love the flavor of these beans, they have a delicate earthy flavor. This curry in particular is amongst my favorite recipe with these beans. The dish is lightly spiced with a thickened and creamy coconut cream sauce. This curry is all about the delicious sauce. I usually serve it with coconut rice and want nothing else.

Snake beans are seasonal in the US. If you cannot find them, I sometimes substitute haricot verts (very tender green beans) or you can substitute tender beans of your choice.

This is an amazing cookbook, so much so that I rarely now go to the other Sri Lankan cookbooks on my shelf. It is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook, from which I have cooked at least half the recipes, every one spectacular. I believe what makes this book special is the attention to detail, including recipes for every spice blend, making every recipe shine.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


12 oz snake beans, washed and cut into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long, or beans of your choice

1-2 green chilies, sliced, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

1 onion, minced

10 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons oil

1 can 13.5 fl oz coconut milk

Salt to taste

Cilantro, minced

Simple coconut-pandanus rice:

2 cups rice, Basmati or any long grain variety

Appropriate amount of coconut water, not coconut milk

5-6 2 inch pieces of pandanus leaf

Mix the rice, coconut water, rice and pandanus leaves and cook like you would any rice, I use a rice cooker. If using another method, though I cannot imagine why you would, do not stir the rice towards the last 5 minutes. The bottom of the rice will caramelize lightly due to the sugars in the coconut water. Fluff and set aside.

Mix all the ingredients except for the oil and coconut milk togethter and allow to sit on your counter for 30 minutes. The beans will absorb the flavorings during this time.

Add the oil to a pot or wok and add the bean mix scraping in all the spices and bits. Cook on medium heat till the onions are soft, about 10-12 minutes. You do not want to rush it and brown the onions or beans.

Add the coconut milk and simmer gently for about 10 more minutes till the coconut milk thickens. The beans should be cooked by now, but a I like to leave them a bit crunchy and not get them mushy and soft. Add the salt and mix in. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings to your preference.

Serve topped with fresh cilantro.

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