The Occasional Vegetarian's Bihari Green Beans Masala

Caroline Russock

Eating more vegetables is never a bad idea and one of the most enjoyable ways to make it happen is familiarizing yourself with the joys of Indian cooking. If tackling it seems intimidating, try out this Bihari Green Beans Masala adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian. It's a great recipe to get you started.

It starts with the combination of green beans and almonds (anyone else reminded of green beans almondine?) then employs a palette of spices you probably already have on hand: cumin, paprika, coriander, and red chile flakes. Toasted with onion and garlic then simmered in coconut milk with stubby little green beans, this simple recipe leaves you with a rich dish of spicy-creamy beans that are just waiting to be spooned over a steaming plate of basmati rice.

No more complicated than your run-of-the-mill green bean recipe, this one is packed with big spices, sweet coconut milk and beans that are so satisfying, they verge on meaty, not to mention give you some confidence to move onto other vegetarian, Indian-inspired cooking projects.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Occasional Vegetarian to give away this week.

Adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian by Elaine Louie. Copyright © 2011. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved

Recipe Facts



Active: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 2 to 3 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Plain cooked rice or roti flatbread, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until light golden. Remove from the heat and transfer the almonds to a plate or bowl; set aside for garnish.

  2. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, chile pepper flakes, and salt to the unwashed sauté pan, and return to medium heat. Sauté until the onion is tender and begins to fry, about 4 minutes.

  3. Add the coconut milk and green beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the beans are tender, about 6 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle the beans with the lime juice and toss lightly. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the almonds and cilantro. If desired, serve accompanied by plain cooked rice or roti flatbread.

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