Saturday, May 22, 2010

Green Beans and Saturdays

I woke up to the sound of rain, and the washing machine churning away on its delayed-start load. Fall has come to Sydney, and with it, a lot of rain and dark evenings.

I must admit, I've been looking forward to wearing boots and jumpers, so this weekend I will be putting away sundresses and shorts. Last night was cool enough to wear my vintage suede jacket down to the pub for a drink with workmates. Seated outside on Darling Harbour, we were treated to fireworks honouring Jazz weekend.

Too tired after the workweek to do more than boil up some ravioli and toss it with pesto, I put off my dinner plans until Saturday lunchtime rolled around. And since it was a lazy Saturday, it was closer to 3pm when I heated up the wok.

With precious little space for cookbooks, I often rely on the internet to find out what's for dinner. My favourites are listed in the "Kitchen Encounters" links - those foodie blogs I check each week - and are often just what I need to get myself out of a pasta rut. This week Luisa, aka The Wednesday Chef, was sharing a vegetarian Indian dish from Julie Sahni.

Bihari Green Beans Masala

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil
2 tablespoons flaked or sliced almonds
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until light golden. Remove from heat and transfer almonds to a plate or bowl; set aside for garnish.

2. Add onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili pepper flakes and salt to the unwashed sauté pan, and return to medium heat. Sauté until the onion is tender and begins to fry, about 4 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk and green beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the beans are tender, about 6 minutes.

4. Sprinkle beans with lime juice, and toss lightly. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with almonds and cilantro. Serve with plain cooked rice or roti flatbread.

Julia's notes:

I used flaked almonds and they were lovely. I think any pre-chopped almonds would work. Their toasted, buttery crunch really makes this dish. I admit I forgot to add the lime - it will brighten this up. The green beans were quite crispy as I didn't let them cook for long, and I like them that way, but you may prefer softer veggies. Jody made the rice and added flaked coconut while it was cooking. We had very little left, so I also toasted some naan.

Flavourful onions and spices

I was nervous about the chili flakes but it wasn't overly spicy, though I did cheat and use the garlic paste I had in the fridge. These two are the flavours you can adjust for heat. I can only stand mild to medium, and the ratio here was good for me. Adjust as you like - just taste as you go!

Stir in the beans and coconut milk

Luisa has some lovely photos on her blog and while mine aren't as sophisticated, you can see that it's an easy dish to plate up and it will look fantastic, even from an amateur cook.

Plate it up and enjoy!

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