Recipe: Beans Poriyal (பொரியல்)

This easy and super delicious side dish is so amazing that you should totally make it! Seriously! Read this recipe now!

If you don’t know much about South Indian cuisine, poriyal (பொரியல்) is a Tamil dish made from sauteeing spices and a diced vegetable, then (usually) finishing the dish with shredded coconut. This is commonly made with green beans, potato, carrot, etc. (In Indian English terminology, “beans” or sometimes “French beans” = green beans and “dal” = dried beans, also “curd” = yogurt, “capsicum” = bell pepper, and more.) There are also versions of this dish in other areas of South India that go by different names. Poriyals are usually served with rice, sambar and/or rasam, and yogurt. It is super easy to make compared with many other Indian dishes. It is also extremely healthy (vegetables prevent cancer! turmeric prevents cancer! coconut is a heathy fat!). My recipe is also a no onion no garlic recipe 🙂
This dish is also great at introducing people to South Indian cuisine. It uses many basic South Indian ingredients. These are explained below!

South Indians use untoasted sesame oil (VERY DIFFERENT from Chinese/Korean/Japanese sesame oil!!!) and coconut oil for cooking. You can also use other oils (the above two are expensive!) like avocado (also expensive..), canola, peanut, corn, sunflower, etc. but not extra virgin olive as it has a low smoke point.

Black mustard seeds are very small round seeds. They are also called “rai”. These are used in just about every South Indian dish and can easily be found in Indian grocery stores. Added to hot oil, they will splutter all over your kitchen! This is supposed to happen. Be careful and use the mesh guard over your pot if necessary.

Split and peeled urad dal is added to hot oil in many South Indian dishes. Urad dal is a type of bean. This bean is peeled (the black skin is removed) and split in half for this usage. Urad dal is also simmered whole in curries such as the North Indian “maa ki dal”. They are also ground up to make the batters for idli, dosa, uttapam, and vada (South Indian breads).

Curry leaves grow on the curry tree. They do NOT make curry powder. They are used in just about every South Indian dish. If you cannot get them, they are optional (except in curry leaf chutney, duh.). If you CAN get them, they are strongly recommended to be used because they have a unique fragrance. They go bad quickly in the fridge, so store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, not the refrigerator. One sprig means one stem, and remove the leaves from the stem before adding to the pot. Don’t add the stem. Added to hot oil, they will sound like firecrackers, but don’t worry. After cooking, unlike bay leaves, you CAN chew the leaves to eat them. They have a great fragrance.

Turmeric powder is used throughout India, and can be found anywhere. They make everything bright yellow!

Hing, also called asafoetida, smells quite bad to non-Indian people like me. However, because of its wonderful flavor, it is used in just about every South Indian dish. If you are brave enough, it is sold in Indian grocery stores inside medicine bottles (in the spice section, not the medicine section!). If you are not brave enough (like me 😦 ) then you can omit it.

Dried chilies are optional and they make the dish very spicy unless you use a very mild chili. I use chile japones. When boiled, this chili makes dishes very spicy. You can decrease the amount or omit the chilies in any recipe for a non-spicy version. Be careful to not add too much! (I actually did that many times!!)

Grated coconut is used in many South Indian dishes. In India and Southeast Asia, it is easy to get freshly grated coconut. In the USA and Europe, you can use frozen grated coconut or dried shredded coconut. I use dried.

I hope this introduction is helpful!
More ingredients will be introduced in the rasam recipe, coming next! The final ingredients will be introduced in the sambar recipe! Both of these recipes also use all of the ingredients above. 🙂

Adapted from: Veg Recipes of India (this blog is AMAZING and full of delicious Indian recipes from both north and south!)

225-250 grams green beans, washed, drained, tough ends removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp oil
3/4 tsp split peeled urad dal
3/4 tsp black mustard seeds
2 dried red chilies (optional for non-spicy)
1 pinch hing (optional if you don’t have)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 sprig curry leaves (optional if you don’t have)
1/2 cup water
about 1/4 tsp salt (to your taste)
2-3 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or dried)

1. Heat a pan, add oil.
2. Add mustard seeds and urad dal, fry until urad dal are golden brown. Be careful! The mustard seeds will fly all over the kitchen!
3. Add hing, turmeric, chilies, and curry leaves, and fry for 10 seconds. (if using, the chilies will darken a bit)
4. Add chopped green beans and saute for a minute.
5. Add water and salt, stir. Cover, bring to a boil. Cook until the beans are soft or to your liking.
6. Uncover, evaporate most of the water. If using dried coconut, leave a few tbsp of water. Add coconut and stir to combine.
7. Turn off the heat. Enjoy with cooked rice! For a traditional South Indian meal, also include rasam and sambar, and some plain yogurt. The recipes are coming up next!



8 thoughts on “Recipe: Beans Poriyal (பொரியல்)

    1. வணக்கம் (vanakkam) in Tamil to go along with the recipe
      You’re welcome 🙂
      I love Indian food blogs, just have to remember that curd = yogurt and other terms, hehe.

  1. Will the Blacl Mustard Seeds soften
    a little or still be hard or crunchy when you bite into one?
    First dish I’ve seen ANYWHERE that has coconut for a savory dish. I alway see Frozen coconut in all the asian market but don’t know a dish that it used in until now :))

    1. The black mustard seeds are so tiny that you can’t tell (they probably turn soft after boiling then). If you mean the urad dal, they do soften when you bite into them though because of the steam boiling process (unless you choose to make the beans very al dente I guess).
      That means you haven’t seen much of South Indian cuisine (so much coconut!!). I hope you will find this series interesting then 🙂
      I use dried finely shredded (unsweetened) coconut instead of the frozen one because it’s more convenient.
      Poriyals are very easy to make compared to North Indian subzis. No onion-tomato masala that takes an extra 10 min to make. Also the spices are very simple too (turmeric and black mustard seeds). I love the taste!! And as a bonus they are no onion, hehe. Poriyal can be made with English vegetables like green beans, carrots, beets, potatoes, and also Indian vegetables. Indian potato dishes are my favorite because the spices are so tasty! I might share the potato poriyal recipe too. I hope you enjoy if you try! 🙂

  2. I don’t have the kind of access I had to products from India like I did last year but plenty of asian stores and it is there that I have seen a variety of frozen coconut meat etc,,,
    ‘The alphabet was originally written on palm leaves. As a result, the letters are made up mainly of curved strokes which didn’t rip the leaves’
    I like the scroll lettering also :))

    1. New recipes 🙂
      The makhanwala is super time consuming (reducing the masala paste…) but was the most delicious Indian food I ever made! Usually my fusion experiments aren’t very good but this time was a success!!

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