Saturday, April 30, 2011

Square Beans Stir-Fry (Varai)

Square beans are a popular vegetable in Sri Lanka; we used to grow them in our backyard. I was surprised to see them in Malaysian pasar malam (Night street Market, that sells fresh fruits, vegetables and other Malaysian delicacies. Pasar Malam is similar to farmers market). There are many similarities in Malaysian and Sri Lankan cuisine. In Malaysia this vegetable is stir fried and served in a spicy chili sauce called sambal Oelek. Please note sambal oelek has shrimp paste in it. So check the ingredients before you buy them. They do have vegetarian sambal oelek.

Square beans are similar to green beans in terms of health benefits and texture. They are rich in fiber and prevents cardiovascular disease. Hench square beans can be substituted for all green beans recipes.

This is a quick stir fry dish, adopted from my mom’s recipe. She used to add potatoes to this stir fry dish. I try to make complete Sri Lankan lunch during weak ends, this stir fry is served as a part of rice and curry meal.


1 tbsp sesame oil
2 dry red chili diced
1 onion diced
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp yellow gram
1 tsp mustard and cumin seeds
200g square beans halved length wise and diced  (trim off edges and peel strings)
Pinch of turmeric powder
Pinch of salt


Heat oil in a non-stick pan, sauté onion, dry red chili, curry leaves and yellow gram for 2 minutes. Add mustard and fennel seeds and sauté till it splutters.

Add square beans, salt and turmeric, mix well, and cook covering the lid, for 4-5 minutes till square beans are soft.

Turn off heat, serve with red rice or your choice of main meal.

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