Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ceylonese spiced runner beans

Even though he has not said it out loud, I can see it in D’s body language ‘ Oh, not runner beans again!’. But what can I do, they are still growing in the garden plot. Some are a little far gone, the skins tough to chew due to neglect, however others can still be picked and eaten. I have to admit the thought of eating plain runner beans coated in a little butter or olive oil did not thrill me either, so I have had to find another way of eating them. We’ve already eaten them in salads and 'spiced up' in various ways. This time it was Ceylonese spiced runner beans. I have to admit, I know very little about Ceylonese (now Sri Lanka) cuisine. My assumption like many is that it is similar to South Asian, namely Indian food, but as I delved more. I learned that there are also Arab, British, Dutch and Portuguese influences. Alongside these influences, the country has some of its own traditional Sri Lankan offerings such as the renowned 'hoppers' (crispy at the edge and gooey in the middle pancakes) that every tourist reminisces about when back on home turf. There is also kiri bath (milk rice served at ceremonies), pol sambol (fresh grated coconut combined with chilli, onions, lime salt and pepper) and kavum (dough cakes deep-fried in coconut oil).

But what I am making is not traditional at all, but the flavours are very definitely Ceylonese. I wasn’t sure if these would go well with the celery and pecan cakes, but I was willing to try. It was a good accompaniment. The flavours complimented the celery and pecan cakes very well indeed.
Ceylonese spiced runner beans
Serves 4
300g runner beans,
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon, grated root ginger
½ teaspoon salt
Juice of ½ lemon or more to taste
If the runner beans are a little tough, string them, then top and tail. Slice diagonally into 1 ½ inch pieces. Cook the runner beans in a pan of boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic for a minute. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for another minute, then add the ground spices and cook for a further minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for a couple of minutes until softened and a little pulpy. Stir in the beans, ginger, salt and lemon and simmer for five minutes. Adapted from Ainsley Harriott’s Gourmet Express 2.


  1. I love how eating seasonally and having to deal with gluts of things when you grow your own forces you to be imaginative and creative in the kitchen. When I first moved here I had great plans for a veg patch. I started off with some broad beans, strawberries, rhubarb, leeks, cabbages, various salad leaves and tomatoes but once having the kids, I found it very difficult to have the time and energy. I look forward to getting started again at some point. Again, I'll start off small and work my way up. When I do start growing stuff, I will definitely be coming here for inspiration!

  2. Looks delicious! I've never tried anything Ceylonese (except the tea!) or even Sri Lankan, so will have to give this a try.
    If your runner beans are getting a bit tough & leathery, you could always pod them & cook the beans! Just cook them the same way you would dried beans that have been soaked overnight, and they're delicious!
    Much love

  3. Easy to get fed up with runner beans but having grown them, I relentlessly munch my way through them. This will brighten up next year's harvest - thanks. And thanks for the camera tip. I did indeed buy a fuji finepix!

  4. Please Do Not Feed The Animals.
    Thank you so much.
    I can't speak for anyone else, but this is so true in my case.

    I understand its not always easy to make plans into reality. But now with the liitle ones a little older and curious, maybe you start again (with their input) with a small herb and veggie patch. Its amazing how much kids like to get their little hands grubby :D

    Thank you littleblackfox.
    I will keep in mind your runner beans suggestion for the pods. We def. have pods with beans! Thanks for saving them from going into the compost bin completely!

    Your right, its only because they are homegrown that we keep eating them.

    Pleased to read that you ended up with a fuji finepix! Hope you get many good photographs, some of course that you will share with us.

    Thank you ever so much Polly.

  5. This looks like a stroke of genius. I too am being over-runner beaned so thanks for an excellent new way of using them up. btw very interested in growing the variety Moonlight (Thomson and Morgan) next year - apparently they're a bit like a cross between runner and french beans. sounds good...

  6. Thank you Fran.
    I'd like to experiment, you know I do - but because i have little space to grow. I am sticking with what I know for now :D but maybe next time i'll try the 'moonlight'. Will wait and see how it grows for you first.


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