My sister and I, as we cook Sri Lankan food on our own, realize that we have this typical combination — purripu, bean curry and chicken curry. Those three, so delicious, so comforting, are what we first starting making on our own. Perhaps because they are so easy to make. TRUST me. To be honest, though, the chicken curry was never the same color as my mom’s and I couldn’t figure it out, and then she said, oh, did you add tomato paste? and I said, NO, because you never told me to!! So now, that’s resolved.

But this is a post about bean curry. Like purripu, this is one pot cooking with hardly any prep. You know, as I write these posts, I realize how easy and available, Sri Lankan cooking really is. We don’t prep too much and typically, everything is thrown into a pot, and simmered and served. I admit, some ingredients may be exotic, but those ones aren’t crucial – they can be substituted or even omitted. The ingredients in this dish, for instance – you can use those yard long, dark green and wiry string beans that’s sometimes known as the chinese long bean, or you can use regular green beans, or even haricots verts. The picture below is using the long bean because I went to Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights and they had some lovely bunches.


one bunch long green beans; or three large handfuls of green beans

two shallots

3-4 curry leaves

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

2/3 cup -1 cup of coconut milk

black pepper


small piece of cinnamon


Clean and prep your string beans -cut into bite size pieces. Thinly slice the shallots. In a frying pan or skillet or saucepan, heat some oil (I always use olive oil). Then add your shallots, and the mustard seeds, cinnamon, curry leaves and turmeric. When the mustard seeds pop, add the string beans, and black pepper and salt to taste. Sautee it a little bit, so everything gets nice and coated, and then add your 2/3 cup of coconut milk. I was flexible with the amount of coconut milk b/c if you want it lighter, use less, if you want it to be more richer, add more. This is not a curry with a gravy, as everything cooks, the coconut milk will practically evaporate and coat everything with this unctuous blanket of creaminess. Then cook until the beans are slightly tender. I don’t like cooking things to death, you want them to have some life, still. If you are using the long beans, though, cook a little longer, as that tastes better when it is completely tender. If you want a little bit of kick, you can add dried red chilies. However, this is a simple dish, and the mustard seed is all you need. And of course, I am sure that people add maldive fish. Go ahead! But not in my house. 🙂