Sweet and sour green beans for Thanksgiving!

Dear Reader,

As you may already be aware, I have recently published a cookbook of South Asian food for beginners. I don't have any turkey recipes in the book but I thought I would share with you a recipe for a vegetarian side dish (one of my favorites from the book) as a way of thanking you, on this day of gratitude, for being a 3 Quarks Daily reader.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at 3QD!

In this recipe, you can skip the fennel seeds, kalonji (nigella), and methi (fenugreek) seeds if you don't have them. It will still be very good, even if a little less authentically South Asian (the difference those ingredients make is subtle). You'll be surprised at just how good this is, I say with confidence! (Or you may register complaints in the comments!) You can just double (or even triple) the amounts of everything if you have a lot of guests coming. Do try it:


  • 4 fluid ounces (120 milliliters) oil
  • 1 teaspoon yellow or black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kalonji (nigella)
  • 1/4 teaspoon methi (fenugreek) seeds (optional), they add a certain depth but are not necessary
  • 1 large onion (12 ounces or 350 grams), chopped finely
  • 5 medium sized cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 16 ounces (450 grams) green beans, ends trimmed off and then cut into 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) lengths
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 fluid ounces (180 milliliters) of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 limes' worth of juice (60 milliliters).


  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or a large pot) on high heat for two minutes.
  • Put in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, kalonji, and methi seeds (optional), and fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the onion and fry for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the cayenne pepper and turmeric and mix well.
  • Add the water, green beans, sugar, and salt, and turn heat down to medium-high (7 on a scale of 1 to 10), stir well once or twice, then cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and turn heat to high and cook while stirring for 3 more minutes, or until most of the water is evaporated.
  • Turn heat off and add the ground black pepper and lime juice, and mix well.
  • Taste and add salt and lime juice if needed.
  • DONE.

This recipe makes about four servings as a side dish. Oh, and there is much more information about the cookbook here: