Indian food is scarce in Santa Barbara. My kids really haven’t had much exposure to Indian cuisine. Enter the enchanting The Lunch Box, a movie about the lunch delivery system in India — suddenly, I had a very interested brood.
If you’ve seen this amazing and dear movie you know what I’m talking about. Those looking for a great culinary/love story to watch over the weekend…you can thank me later. Warning: It’s subtitled. I told my girls (ages 9 and 11) if they watched with us it would count as their reading homework for the night. Two-for-one win all around.
As the beautiful, female lead dishes out aromatic sides of green beans drenched with what looks like tomatoes, ginger and turmeric (or was it tamarind?) we were all salivating. My kids don’t really even love green beans, or anything “too mixed together.” However, the next day they insisted I try a similar recipe, “Mom, make The Lunch Box green beans.”
Using what was on hand in my pantry, I’m sure I missed the mark on a full-on Indian spiced green bean. Regardless, this interpretation is delicious. As I type out this recipe I’m trying hard not to eat the entire plate.
It’s incredible how one movie has expanded our dinner repertoire. I’ve now loaded my pantry with Indian spices and branching out for family meals. We’ve been inspired to have a deeper appreciation for these fragrant and new tastes. We always circle back to The Lunch Box, with my youngest daughter protesting the end of the film — you’ll just have to watch it to know what I mean and soon you will be craving drenched green beans, too. Better yet, make up a batch of these to enjoy with those subtitles.
About the recipe: I prefer the thinnest, most delicate green beans for quick cooking. I spied some at Trader Joe’s recently — well, more I found them as I dug through all the bags to find the best. No shame in happy hunting! If you’ve got bigger beans, you’ll just need to cook them first for a few minutes in salty, boiling water prior to sautéing.
If your garden is still giving you tomatoes then use ’em up here! You can also try cherry tomatoes sliced in half.
Quick Spiced Green Beans
1 chile de arbol
1 tablespoon ghee
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ tsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp kosher salt
6-8 ounces Haricot Vert green beans (thin French beans)
2-3 small tomatoes, diced or 10 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Splash of water
In a dry sauté pan on medium-high heat, add the chile and toast until fragrant. Add the ghee and swirl it around the pan. Follow with the ginger and garlic. Stir so that it’s all incorporated in the pan – just for about 30 seconds or so. Next, add the green beans and tomatoes and toss all of the ingredients together making sure all of the beans are covered with the aromatics. Cook about one minute before covering the pan and reducing the heat to a simmer. Your beans will be cooked, but still crunchy in 4-5 minutes. Remove the chile pepper before serving and enjoy with basmati rice.