This is the first time in 2012 we’ve been able to eat dinner out on the patio! Happy spring evening. The sun slanted low but bright on the horizon (as you can see in the photo). Laughter from playing children drifted across the yard. Lawn mowers hummed in the distance. The scents of freshness, newness, of verdant growth suffused the senses. Glasses clinked as we toasted the day, the meal, the sheer pleasure and gratitude in enjoying a fine meal on a fine day with the most excellent and beloved of company.
We made a curry to honor the evening, because we crave no other food more intensely. A bright, fresh curry made with crisp beans and smooth, silky coconut milk. With spices to suffuse the senses like that verdant growth all around. A simple curry, really, quick and easy. But luscious and decadent with its contrasts in textures and flavors. Green beans never tasted so good, I promise.
Have you ever heard the story of the grandfather’s ax inherited by the grandson? (I appear to digress, but I do have a reason.) Over the years, the handle had to be replaced, and then the metal head. And then the handle again, and again, and then the head a second time. Although no part of the ax, not one single molecule, remained from the original ax, the grandson still considered it to be his grandfather’s ax, without question. This recipe is kind of like that. I adapted it from a recipe provided by Heidi Swanson, making numerous changes to suit Paulo’s and my tastes. And Heidi, who in turn received the recipe from Anna Getty, made myriad changes of her own, altering it to suit her preferences. So I’m not sure if anything in this recipe remains from Anna’s original formulation. But that is the fun and creativity in cooking, in sharing and adapting and ever evolving, so I wanted to mention both of those wonderful cooks, to give them full credit for contributing to this wonderful curry, however meandering the path from the first to the current.
Coconut Green Bean Curry
1 lb fresh green beans
1 T oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes (preferably Aleppo)
14 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raisins
Trim the beans, if needed. Cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces, and set aside. Heat the oil in a large, wide pan, and saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it nearly has evaporated. Add the curry powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, and pepper flakes, along with 3/4 tsp salt. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk as well as the shredded coconut (if using). Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. (Doing so will blend the flavors.)
Add the beans, bring to a boil again, then cover and simmer gently until the beans are crisp-tender, stirring regularly, approximately 10 minutes. Add salt, if needed, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir in the almonds and the raisins. Serve over rice. (The curry is even better when reheated later.)