Curried green bean salad is one of my favourite side dishes for summer dining. The tangy curry-flavoured sauce is the perfect foil for the sweetness of the beans, and because it is served cold, this dish is ideal for eating outdoors.
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Curried green beans
I absolutely love the flavour of this green bean salad. It’s sweet and tangy, with a hit of heat from the curry powder. It goes perfectly with a grilled sausage, a piece of cold chicken, or even with steak.
It was always the most-requested salad whenever I was invited to a barbeque in South Africa. ‘Would you like me to bring a salad?’. ‘Oh yes please, would you mind bringing some curried green beans!’
Since moving back to the UK I don’t make nearly as many salads as I used to, but the lovely hot weather we’ve been having lately reminded me how much I used to enjoy this salad.
I think you’ll love it too.
- It stays fresh for over a week in the refrigerator. I think it must be something to do with the vinegar in the sauce.
- The flavours improve on standing, so you can make it in advance and leave it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.
- It travels well, making it ideal for packing in a picnic basket or taking along to a potluck.
- Curried green bean salad is served cold, so you can either serve it straight out of the refrigerator or let it come to room temperature first.
- It’s something different from the run-of-the-mill potato or green salads that normally seem to get served at barbeques, so you’ll pick up loads of compliments when you put this salad on the table.
- It only takes 10 minutes to prep, then you can leave it on the stove to simmer away for another 15 minutes. Job done!
You only need a few ingredients to make this curried bean salad. Green beans and onions are the main ingredients, with the flavour in the sauce coming from vinegar, brown sugar and curry powder. I like to add a handful of sultanas, which swell up in the sauce turning them into pops of juicy sweetness, but if you don’t like sultanas it won’t matter if you leave them out.
What you will need
This recipe makes enough salad to feed 6 to 8 people as a side dish. However, you can keep any leftovers in the refrigerator for another meal.
**If you want to skip the images and instructions below, you can jump directly to the recipe for curried green bean salad on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Green beans – I used a mixture of french beans and runner beans, but you can use either type. It doesn’t really matter. Just top and tail the beans and remove any strings (if they have any), and cut them into approximately one-inch lengths. I used 350 grams, which was about 2 cups of chopped beans.
Onions – The onion should be peeled and finely sliced. You will need half the amount of onion as beans.
Sultanas – As I mentioned above, you can leave these out if you prefer, but the fruity taste complements the curry sauce really well.
Vinegar – This is white spirit vinegar, not dark malted vinegar. If you can’t get white vinegar, substitute with cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar. The recipe calls for half a cup of vinegar which you may think is rather a lot, but the brown sugar acts to counter the tartness.
Brown sugar – for sweetness
Curry powder – you can buy curry powder in any supermarket. It comes in mild, medium and hot strengths. Choose the one that suits your taste. See the FAQ section below for how to make your own homemade curry powder.
Turmeric – adds a yellow colour to the curry.
Oil – I use sunflower oil for softening the onions. You can substitute this with any neutral-flavoured oil.
Cornflour – for thickening
Salt – which is optional, but does help to bring out the flavour.
Water – you need one cup of liquid in total, so I just add half a cup of water to the vinegar.
What to do
This curried green bean salad couldn’t be easier to make. In a nutshell:
- par-boil the beans
- fry the onions
- add the sauce ingredients
- simmer for 15 minutes.
Place the beans in a saucepan of lightly salted cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then drain and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the same saucepan and fry the onions on a gentle heat until they start to turn translucent.
Stir in the curry powder, turmeric and half of the cornflour and fry for one minute longer.
Add the water, vinegar, brown sugar, sultanas and beans and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
If the sauce hasn’t thickened sufficiently, make a slurry with the remaining cornflour and 1 tablespoon of cold water and drizzle it into the beans, stirring until thickened. You may not need all the cornflour mixture.
The sauce should be just thick enough to coat the beans, without being too runny.
Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste if necessary.
The amount of cornflour you need depends on how much liquid evapourates during the cooking process. It’s better to thicken the beans once they have cooked, rather than have to thin them down with extra liquid as this will upset the balance of flavour.
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If you want to make your own basic curry powder blend at home, here’s how to do it.
Mix one teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander and turmeric with 2 teaspoons of garam masala and one-quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Use this in the recipe in place of the curry powder and turmeric. Adjust the cayenne pepper according to your own taste.
No, this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
Curried green beans can be stored in sterilised glass jars in a cool place for up to 6 months. Once opened store in the refrigerator and use within a week.
If you do decide to bottle the beans, make sure that the bean mixture is boiling before you pour it into the sterilised bottles, then seal the bottles immediately.
To sterilise jars in the oven:
Wash the jars and the lids in hot soapy water, rinse, but do not dry them.
Stand them on a baking tray while they’re still wet.
Place the tray of clean, wet jars and lids into a preheated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF for 15 mins.
To sterilise jars in the microwave:
Wash the jars and the lids in hot soapy water, rinse, but do not dry them.
Place them in the microwave whilst still wet.
Microwave on full power for 2 minutes
If the lids are made of metal DO NOT MICROWAVE. Instead, place the lids in a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes.
The dish is intended to be served as a salad to accompany a barbeque or a platter of cold meats.
However, the beans are delicious when spread on a crusty cheese sandwich. They also make a nice addition to ploughman’s platter.
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If you enjoyed this curried bean recipe you may also enjoy some of my other salad recipes:
- Copper penny salad (sweet and sour carrots)
- Creamy coleslaw salad
- Salmon and red pepper pasta salad
- Tomato and onion pasta salad
- German meat salad
Curried green bean salad
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- ¾ pound / 350 grams green beans sliced in one-inch pieces
- 1 large onion peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ cup / 75 grams sultanas
- ½ cup / 120 ml white vinegar
- ½ cup / 120 ml water
- 2 tablespoons / 25 grams dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons curry powder (mild medium or hot)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Place the beans in a saucepan of lightly salted cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then drain and set aside.¾ pound / 350 grams green beans
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the same saucepan and fry the onions on a gentle heat until they start to turn translucent.2 tablespoons sunflower oil, 1 large onion
- Stir in the curry powder, turmeric and half of the cornflour and fry for one minute longer.2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 tablespoon cornflour, 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Add the water, vinegar, brown sugar, sultanas and beans and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.½ cup / 75 grams sultanas, ½ cup / 120 ml white vinegar, ½ cup / 120 ml water, 2 tablespoons / 25 grams dark brown sugar
- If the sauce hasn't thickened sufficiently, mix the remining cornflour with a tablespoon of water and drizzle it into the beans on a low heat. Stir until thick. You may not need all the additional cornflour.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.½ teaspoon salt
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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