Green Beans with Onion Paste

This Indian dish can be made as spicy or mild as you like by adjusting the quantity of chiles. If fresh chiles are unavailable, dried chiles or cayenne powder may be used instead.

For eight as a side dish:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans
  • 1 or more green chiles, such as serrano
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cubic inch ginger root
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 6 ounces vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro

Trim the green beans and cut into 1-inch pieces. Mince the chiles.

Peel and chop the onion, garlic, and ginger; core and chop the tomato. Place them all in the bowl of a food processor with the turmeric, cumin, and coriander and process to a paste.

Heat 2 ounces of the oil in a wide saucepan over high heat. Add the onion paste and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as necessary to prevent sticking. Transfer the cooked paste to a plate.

Add the rest os the oil to the pan with the mustard and cumin seeds and cook for half a minute or so, until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the green beans and chiles and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the paste, mix thoroughly, and cook for five minutes more. Stir in the salt,the juice of half a lemon, and a cup of water. After bringing to a boil, cover the pan, lower the heat, and cook slowly for about thirty minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are tender. Transfer to a platter and cover with minced cilantro.