Spicy Long String Beans (Payyaru Ulathiathu)

Long String beans (also known as  Chinese Long Beans or Yard Long Beans, Asparagus Beans, Garter Beans, and Snake Beans) are a long, thin green beans that can measure from 1 to 3 feet in length. These beans are a subtropical/tropical plant that is widely grown in Southeastern Asia, Thailand, and Southern China, and are a cousin to the cowpea or black-eye pea1These beans are very similar to regular green beans however they are softer and tender and are really flavorful. 

In the US, these are available in Asian groceries – we usually get ours from the Indian or the Chinese grocers in our area.  These beans can be easily snapped using your hands to small pieces and I usually break them into about 1 inch long pieces. This is a very simple recipe that uses only the beans, coconut oil, onions and red chillies as the main ingredients. My mom used to also add either fresh or dried shrimp too to this dish to give it some extra flavor! That was a trick she used for many vegetable side dishes- possibly to make us eat our vegetables when we were kids! 

Ingredients:
3 cups long string beans, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 dried shrimp or fresh shrimp(optional)
1/2 of a small red onion or 1 small shallot
2 small dry red chillies (use one if you don't want it too hot)
4-5 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds

Method:

1. Place the string beans into a cooking pot with the water and salt and the dried shrimp (if adding) and heat the pot on medium heat covering with a lid.  Cook for 5 minutes and then open the lid and check to see if they are cooked (per your taste) and if any water is left in the pot just let it evaporate. Then put the heat off and keep the pot aside.

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2. In a small chopper, add the onion or the shallot and the dry red chillies and grind till the onions and chillies form a coarse paste.

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3. Now heat a large shallow frying pan and add the coconut oil to it. When hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they splutter, add the onion and chili mixture and saute on medium heat for about 2 -3 minutes until the onions are cooked stirring continuously to avoid burning.  Then add the fresh curry leaves and stir for another 30 seconds. Now add the cooked string beans into the pan and continue sauteing for about 1 minute until the beans are well-coated with the onion chilli mixture.  Turn the heat off and transfer to a serving dish.

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Notes:

1.The shrimp in this dish is really optional but if you are not a vegetarian, I recommend you definitely try adding it. Believe me, you will love it!

2.   Make sure you drain or evaporate any excess water after you cook the beans to your desired perfection.

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