Masaledar Sem (Spicy Green Beans)

By • August 18, 2014 • 6 Comments

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Author Notes: If you've ever wanted to try making Indian food at home, this is a great introductory recipe. It's relatively simple to throw together, and you won't have to vastly expand your spice collection to get it on the table. Whole cumin seeds, ground coriander, and some sort of dried chile or crushed red pepper flakes are the only pantry spices you need. It is important to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start cooking this dish because it comes together in no time once the first spices hit the hot oil. Feel free to scale back the oil, spices, and salt if you are working with less than 1 1/2 pounds of green beans. And finally, while the ground, roasted cumin seeds add another dimension of flavor, if you leave them out, the dish won't suffer. Here's how you make them: toast a teaspoon (or however much you would like to make) of whole cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until the cumin seeds have turned a few shades darker and are smelling fragrant. Grind in spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

I love serving this with basmati rice, cooked in equal parts coconut milk and water, warm naan, and a dollop of plain yogurt. This recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking.
Alexandra Stafford

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 pound (750 grams) fresh green beans
  • 1 piece fresh ginger 1 1/2 inches (4 centimeters) long and 1 inch (2 1/2 centimeters) thick, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cup (350 milliliters) water, divided
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 dried hot chile, lightly crushed in a mortar or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled (optional) and finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground, roasted cumin (see note above)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Trim the beans and cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch (10-millimeter) lengths. Put the ginger and garlic into the container of an electric blender or food processor. Add 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) of water and blend until fairly smooth.
  2. Put the oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. Five seconds later, put in the crushed chile or crushed red pepper flakes. As soon as it darkens, pour in the ginger-garlic paste. Stir and cook for about a minute. Put in the coriander. Stir a few times. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes, mashing up the tomato pieces with the back of a slotted spoon as you do.
  3. Put in the beans, salt (maybe not all of it to start), and the remaining water. Bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the beans are tender. Remove the cover and add the juice of half a lemon, the ground roasted cumin seeds (if using), and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Taste and adjust with more lemon, salt, or pepper as necessary.
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9 days ago Petite fee

WOW! amazing flavor!! I think to make it a bit more substantially vegetarian, I will try tofu or chickpeas topped with cilantro.
thanks 4 sharing!!


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20 days ago Lynn

Of all my (dozens of!) cookery books, the Madhur Jaffrey book this recipe comes from is the most used, most stained, most loved. Every dish I've made from it has been delicious, and this is one of our favourites. Totally DELICIOUS!

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21 days ago Diane

Absolutely scrumptious and addictive. I kept eating it long after my stomach said STOP, which is exactly the criteria for a recipe to land in my permanent collection. I'm curious to try other veggies too - maybe asparagus, or even brussels sprouts. I was worried it wouldn't be substantial enough for a vegetarian meal, but the addition of the coconut basmati more than made up for the lightness. Real delightful - thank you, Alexandra for sharing it!

Astafford

21 days ago Alexandra Stafford

So happy to hear this, Diane! I think a number of vegetables would take nicely to this preparation — maybe even some dark, leafy greens? And I totally agree that the coconut basmati definitely adds a richness that makes the meal feel substantial.

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23 days ago Atlanticgull

This was WONDERFUL!!! Hugely successful and will become a regular. Next time I'll make an attempt at Naan, too. Thanks!!

Astafford

22 days ago Alexandra Stafford

Yay!! I'm so happy to hear this.