you may have noticed my ‘using preserves’ efforts as of late. jam on it, roast the toast and shizzles with picklz are series that i’ve long been roaring about. they’ve been the focus of my most recent posts as i’ve stepped up my intent on showing you just how i use up the preserves that we are oh so busy making in the heady months of june though november. and this new series, tomat’ode, is one i’m quite excited about. because as the saying goes, if you only can one thing, can tomatoes.
that is how the saying goes, isn’t it? or did i just say that up?
here’s a spicy little number that gets a spin around my winter kitchen about once a week. green beans from my summer garden are a staple in my freezer, and indian curries are a staple in my cooking. this one is as easy as it is flavorful. if you love indian food but think its difficult to cook, or if you’ve never had the good fortune to try indian flavors but have been curious, i say try this now – and thank me later.
before we get started; i’m not saying you need to have homemade ghee, because you could use light (not toasted) sesame oil, peanut oil, or any other kind of flavorless vegetable oil here. but, if you were going to make your own ghee…
now would be the time to do it.
also, if you’re not a hot-head like me, no worries, ’cause when you make your own indian food you can heat it up as you like. and truth be told, i’ve been in many parts of india where the curries are not hot enough for moi! so you will still be experiencing authentic indian tastes even if you lower the heat factor. however, i do encourage you to grind your own spices, if you have a mortar & pestle, something like this, or a coffee grinder even, go for it! it does make a difference.
green bean curry
- 1 pound green beans, cut into bite size pieces (i use them straight from the freezer)
1 pint tomatoes (whole, chopped or sauced)
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons ghee, sesame, or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
spices to grind
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 dried red chile (approximately 2 inches long, or to taste)
in india, the most common curry-cooking vessel is a kadai. it’s usually made from cast iron, although stainless and even clay can be found. it most resembles a wok shape and can be either rounded or flat bottomed. you certainly don’t need a kadai or a wok even to make great curries. i make them in all kinds of wide-bodied pans. but if you do have a wok, this is a fun way to use it – and to use it in a way that is quite different from other forms of asian wok-cooking. you will also need some form of cover for the pan.
- start by grinding the spices. i find this amount to be quite easy to do in a mortar & pestle. if your mortar is big enough you can do this all in one go. you might find that you can’t get the coriander to powder completely. that’s ok. once ground, add the salt and turmeric to the mixture.
- place your cooking vessel on medium heat, add the ghee or oil. once heated add the whole mustard seeds and cover. in a few seconds you will hear the seeds popping. keep it covered until the popping subsides. uncover, add the whole cumin seeds – wait 10 seconds – add the chopped onions.
- cook onions until almost browned, approximately 8 minutes. stir occasionally and take care not to let them burn – adjust heat if needed.
- add the ground spices & salt mixture, let sizzle for 15 seconds. add green beans, stir to coat. add pint jar of tomatoes, then fill jar halfway with water, give it a swoosh to get all the tomato goodness off the sides and bottom and add that to the pan too. bring to the boil.
- turn heat to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens. 20 minutes is about right, or just when you start to see the ghee separate from the tomato and sit on top.
as with any curry, green bean curry goes wonderfully with rice or flatbread. a side dish of yogurt or even a salted yogurt drink is a perfect pairing, as is a spicy lime pickle! but, you don’t have to get all indian wid’ it, you could serve any crusty bread for dipping, and a crunchy salad – or you could even serve it as a very flavorful vegetable side dish. i think though, with one taste, you will deftly move this to the center of your plate.
tomat’ode: an unregularly scheduled series roarin’ about the mac daddy
of home canned produce. that’s right – an ode to the jarred tomato. ketchup!