Keralan runner bean curry
This a quite a dry curry based very loosely on a thoran, but mine has a bit more sauce than a traditional thoran to suit British tastes. If you have the time and the inclination, you could use a fresh coconut and grate it, in place of the desiccated coconut – the resulting flavour will be worth it.
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 green chillies
1 small thumb ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Coconut or vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander seeds, bashed in a mortar
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut, soaked in cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes
400g potatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
400g runner beans, destringed and sliced at an angle into 2cm lengths
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 handful curry leaves (optional)
1 green chilli, chopped
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
Cooked brown or white rice
4 roti or chapatis
Salted dairy-free yoghurt
Pickles and chutney
First put the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic in a blender with two tablespoons of water and blitz to a paste. If you don’t have a blender, just finely chop everything.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep pan, add the onion mixture and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, until you have a thick, fragrant paste, adding a little more water if it’s beginning to stick before it’s cooked.
Next, add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook for two minutes until they give off a toasted aroma, then add the coconut milk, desiccated coconut and potatoes. Fill the coconut milk tin with water and add this too, along with a good pinch of salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
Next add the runner beans and cook for a further six minutes, until the runners are cooked and have taken on the flavour of the sauce.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, if using, and a good grind of black pepper, and cook until the curry leaves are crisp and the mustard seeds pop. Take off the heat and drain on kitchen paper.
Back to the curry: once the beans are cooked, taste, add salt and lemon juice to taste (I usually go for a whole lemon but you may prefer less), then finish with the chopped green chilli and coriander. Serve with rice and rotis, salted yoghurt, pickles and chutneys.
PHOTO: Matt Russell for The Guardian