Foodfrom4th: Sri Lankan green bean and tomato curry

• Oct 24, 2018 •

Recipe taken from Anna Jones’ award-winning The Modern Cook’s Year. “Where I live in London Sri Lankan food is having its moment in the sun. There have been a flurry of restaurants opening, serving traditional Sri Lankan hoppers and egg curries. This is a curry my friend Emily told me she’d eaten on a trip to Sri Lanka.

It’s a great thing to make with a glut of green beans, a curry that is even better the next day. If you want a really filling curry you could stir in some cooked lentils, sprouted mung beans or a tin of black-eyed beans just before serving.

This makes a jarful of Sri Lankan-style curry powder, which I keep on my spice shelf where it will last for a couple of months. It is deep and smoky and uses some roasted rice too, which adds an amazing crunch, and as the spices are already toasted you can use it to top hummus or mix it with a little olive oil for a spicy dip for bread. If it sounds like too much you can cut the quantity in half easily. I have suggested some other ways I like to use it below.”


2 tablespoons basmati rice
4 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 heaped teaspoon cardamom seeds (from the pods)
1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
the zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

2 onions, roughly chopped coconut oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
500g runner beans
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
50g coconut flakes
the zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lime

cooked basmati rice, rotis or flatbreads

First, make the curry powder. Place the rice in a dry non-stick pan. Heat over a medium heat until the rice starts to turn light brown. Add the spices and roast them for 3-5 minutes, until they start to brown, toast and become aromatic. Keep moving the pan to preventthe spices from burning. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, then leave to cool down.

Once the spices are cool, use a spice grinder (or a mortar and pestle) to grind them into a powder – you might need to do this in a few batches.

Next, on to the curry. Fry your onions in a little coconut oil until soft and sweet – it will take about 10 minutes. Once they are soft, add the garlic and turmeric and cook for another few minutes, until the garlic is starting to colour a little.

Next add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook until the seeds start to pop, then take them off the heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and stir for a minute until it has lost its rawness. The rest can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Meanwhile, peel the rough strings from the edges of the runner beans and then chop the beans at an angle into 1cm pieces. Add to the pan with the coconut milk and tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes, until the beans are soft.

While the curry is cooking, toast the coconut flakes in a dry frying pan until golden, then add the lime zest and a pinch of salt.

Once the curry is ready, add the lime juice and take it off the heat. Serve the curry ladled into bowls, with the coconut flakes sprinkled on top and some rice or flatbreads on the side.

Ways to use your curry powder

• as a killer base for a curry (obviously)

• scattered over a cucumber and tomato salad

• to top hummus • tossed over some pan­ fried paneer

• mixed with olive oil and garlic as a quick dip for bread or veg

• scattered over a tray of veg before it goes into the oven to roast

• sprinkled on top of some lemon mashed avocado on toast

Subscribe to the 4th Estate podcast.

Comments are closed.