Poriyal is a bright and crunchy stir-fry from South India that can be made with myriad vegetables, though commonly green beans. It's traditionally cooked with a tadka of mustard seeds, whole dried red chiles, curry leaves, and lentils (most often yellow split peas or white gram lentils), then finished with a shower of freshly grated coconut shavings.
My take on this dish is an adaptation with many of the same flavors, but streamlined a bit and updated for my palate. While poriyal is typically made with finely chopped green beans, to speed up the prep and allow the vegetables to stay as crisp-tender as possible, I love making this dish with whole green beans. I also enjoy adding lemon zest, crushed peanuts, and cilantro as garnish, to brighten things up and give it some more crunch.
Speaking of the garnishes, these are just as flexible as the dish itself. If you are allergic to peanuts, you can substitute roasted cashew nuts or almonds. And if cilantro tastes like soap to you, you can use a mixture of tender herbs such as mint, parsley, and basil. —MasalaMama
4 as a side
For the green beans
green beans, trimmed
unrefined coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
black mustard seeds
fresh curry leaves (optional but recommended)
red pepper flakes
medium shallots, sliced
unsweetened desiccated coconut or fresh/frozen coconut shavings
kosher salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
(heaped) roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed or roughly chopped (see Author Notes)
fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, chopped (see Author Notes)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a generous amount of salt, it should taste like the sea. Salty water gives the beans the lovely bright green colour and also seasons the beans.
Add the green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until somewhat tender but still crunchy, about 4 minutes, and drain into a colander. (Note: They will be further stir-fried, hence better to keep them slightly undercooked.)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot and shimmering (it’s very important that the oil is hot at this stage) add mustard seeds. They should pop immediately.
Add the curry leaves, red pepper flakes, and shallots. Be careful as the curry leaves will splutter. Cook until the shallots are softened and ever so lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the green beans, some salt & pepper and toss well with the flavored oil. Fry until cooked through but still a little bit crunchy.
Gently fold in the coconut shavings. Add half the lemon zest and toss well. Adjust the salt to taste.
Garnish with crushed peanuts, cilantro, and remaining lemon zest. Serve with wedges of lemon on the side.