South Indian Beans Poriyal, aka stir-fried green beans with coconut, takes me back to my childhood nostalgia. If you've never had these coconut green beans, you're in for a treat. They're juicy, delicious, and a great way to eat beans (that's not boring!)
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Vegan and gluten-free: This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, making it great for all eaters. It's also super versatile and can be easily adapted!
- Comes together in just 30 minutes: Hard to beat a recipe that comes together in under an hour, but this one takes it a step further.
- Delicious and nutritious: This is a healthy recipe and a great way to get your kids to eat some greens. It's crunchy, just a bit spicy and tastes perfect with rice!
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need a pound of green beans, cooking oil, mustard seeds, split lentils (typically urad or toor dal, but in a pinch you can literally substitute this with any flat, dry yellow lentil you have on hand), and unsweetened, desiccated or shredded coconut. Then, you'll need the same lentils, dried Indian red chilis (or red pepper flakes) and salt for the spice mix.
This is the most common question I get, so I wanted to address it in detail. There are four options for making the dry spice mixture (and check out lentil chart below for visual differences - the traditional combo are the two on the bottom right!)
- Traditional: The way my mom makes it (aka the recipe, as written) uses two types of lentils - urad dal and chana dal. If you have both of those on hand (say because you subscribed to my Indian Cooking 101 series), you're in for a treat.
- Best Single Lentil: Your best bet to optimize use of lentils is by using toor dal (a great multi-purpose lentil for most Indian cooking, and you can find this on Amazon ).
- Easiest Lentil to Find: If you're in a rush, try finding red lentils (aka masoor dal) at your local grocery store. Those work in a pinch as well.
- No Lentil Option: Okay, you're all out of luck, and just want to use an alternative? Crush up some peanuts. Unsalted works best in this case.
If you're interested in learning more about how to stock a simple but effective Indian Pantry, don't forget to check out my detailed guide on the key Indian spices and ingredients you must get, and some nice-to-haves.
📖 Step-by-step instructions
Prepare the green beans and boil them to soften
Trim the edges off the green beans and chop them into small, 1-2 inch pieces. This helps them cook faster. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil, and drop the beans in for about 5 minutes. This should be sufficient time to help them soften a bit.
Prepare the dry spice mixture
Start by toasting half a tablespoon of urad dal, half a tablespoon of gram dal, and 2-3 Indian red chilis (adjust this to your spice levels) until golden brown. Then add these, as well as a pinch of salt and dry grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder. If you don't have a spice grinder, use the smallest dry grind container you have and increase the recipe to 1 cup each of the lentils. You can then store the extra spice powder in your freezer, and use on any other vegetable stir fry of your choice!
Make stir fry green beans
In a large enough skillet, heat some cooking oil (I typically use olive or avocado oil, but you can check out these olive oil substitutes for other options). Then, add the mustard seeds and the rest of the urad dal (or whatever lentil substitution you're using) and let them splutter.
Add the cooked beans and sauté for about 5 minutes. Once the beans are well mixed, add the spice mix we made in the previous step, and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Finally, add the desiccated coconut, give it all a good mix to combine and take off the heat.
Your coconut green beans are ready!
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
I understand it's not always easy to have these on hand. I suggest substituting these lentils with toor dal (multi-purpose split yellow lentil I highly recommend if you're into Indian cooking), masoor dal (traditional red lentils, found at most grocery stores) or simply just crush up some peanuts for both the spice mixture and the sautéing.
Indian red chilis are dried chilis, so they have a rich depth of flavor (in addition to adding some spice value). If you don't have these on hand, I suggest using red pepper flakes in the spice mix, and skipping it in the sautéing step.
Absolutely! Poriyal is traditionally served as a side to any lunch meal (or thali) in South India. You can make this with a number of vegetables - carrots, beans, okra, cabbage, beets, the list is endless! Make a batch of the spice mix and get going!
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
I highly recommend serving these as part of a full Indian meal - think, homemade naan, jeera rice, dal tadka, and these green beans. You're in for a treat! You can store these stir fry green beans in the fridge for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container.
If you like this recipe, don't forget to try out my other Indian recipes:
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Stir Fry Green Beans with Coconut (Beans Poriyal)
Indian Stir Fry Spice Mix
- ½ tablespoon urad dal, see notes for substitutions
- ½ tablespoon chana dal, see notes for substitutions
- 3 dried Indian red chili , adjust to your spice tolerance!
- 1 teaspoon salt
Green Bean Stir Fry
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, optional, can skip
- 1 tablespoon urad dal, see notes for substitutions
- 1 lb green beans, trimmed, sliced into 1-2" pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt, adjust to your taste levels
- ¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
- Start by trimming the ends of a pound of green beans, and chop them into small, 1-2" pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the green beans and cook for ~5 minutes to soften them. They'll still have a bit of a bite, but that's good! You don't want them mushy.
- Add a tablespoon each of urad dal and chana dal, 2-3 red chilis, and a teaspoon of salt to a spice grinder and dry grind into a fine powder. Note: If you don't have these lentils on hand, you can substitute by using just one of them, by using toor dal or masoor dal (red lentils) to replace both of them, or by simply using crushed peanuts instead.
- Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet followed by a teaspoon of mustard seeds and a tablespoon of urad dal. Note: If you don't have urad dal, replace with toor dal or masoor dal or crushed peanuts.
- Drain the green beans and add to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the dry spice mixture and give it a good mix. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
- Finally, turn the heat to low, and add your shredded / desiccated coconut and give it all a good mix to combine and turn off the heat. Serve hot!