This delicately sautéed bean dish in mustard oil with turmeric, chili peppers, garlic, and mustard seeds represents the essence of Bengali cooking. For best results use only young, tender bean pods.


  • 2 tbsps mustard oil, (or light vegetable oil & 1/2 tsp mustard powder)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 large clove garlic, peeled & sliced
  • 4 dried chiles, broken into bits
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed & left whole
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled & cut into 1/8" matchsticks
  • ¼ cup water, (approx)
  • ¼ tsp coarse salt, or to taste
  • lemon juice


1. Put the mustard oil in a heavy skillet and heat to smoking. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool briefly. (Omit this step if you are using light vegetable oil. Do not add mustard powder yet.)
2. Measure out the spices and place them right next to the stove in separate piles. Heat the oil again over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Keep a pot lid handy, as the seeds may spatter and fly all over. When the spattering subsides, add the turmeric, garlic, and chili pieces and fry, shaking the pan, until the garlic turns light golden (about 20 to 30 seconds).
3. Add the beans and potatoes. Let the vegetables sizzle undisturbed for 1 minute (if necessary reduce the heat to medium). Fry the vegetables, turning them, for 5 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup water with the salt. If you are using light vegetable oil, add the mustard powder now and mix well. Reduce the heat to low or medium-low and cook, covered, until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked (about 25 minutes). There will be a little liquid left in the pan. Uncover and continue cooking, turning and tossing the vegetables until they look dry and glazed (3–4 minutes). If necessary increase the heat a little. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle on a little lemon juice about 1–2 teaspoons) to taste.


For a milder dish, discard the seeds of the chili pods.


Indian, Vegetarian


Indian, Vegetarian


Julie Sahni


4 servings




Asian : Southern : Indian