Three Color String Bean Palya @ Vegetopolis Cooking Demo

seasonal string beans from the farmer's market


This past weekend, I gave a veggie cooking demo at Vegetopolis at the Pig Island event on Governor’s Island. I had found purple, yellow and green string beans at the farmer’s market so I decided to make a South Indian stir fry dish called playa, which is basically fresh veggies cooked with fried spices, coconut, lemon and cilantro.  I realized after cooking the purple ones though that they actually turn green so enjoy the color before you cook them!

seasonal string beans from the farmer's market


Sounds funny I know that I was cooking veggies at a place called Pig Island, but there were actually a number of vegetarians there and people that just wanted a bit of a break from pork consumption.

veggie cooking demo at Pig Island, Vegetopolis


At the Vegetopolis, where the cooking demos were taking place, I also was lucky to meet vegetarian cookbook author Lukas Volger.  This is Lukas getting ready for his demo.

vegetarian cookbook author, Lukas Volgar


He made these beautiful zucchini, almond and basil veggie burgers from his cookbook, Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.  He had a copy at the table and I couldn’t put it down so I bought it and have been reading it voraciously ever since.  His recipes are really inventive and the book also includes how to make your own burger buns.

zucchini veggie burgers by Lukas Volgar from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way


My friend Cathy, who had organized the Vegetopolis, gave a demo on cooking an Asian mung bean noodle salad with julienned vegetables. It was really fresh and delicious and also was interesting to me because just last week, I had germinated some mung beans but not realized that they could be made into a noodle as well.

Cathy Erway giving a veggie cooking demo at Vegetopolis, Pig Island


seasonal South Indian green bean palya with purple, green and yellow string beans


Three Color String Bean Palya (South Indian Stir Fry)

3/4 pound string beans, chopped into 1 inch long segments
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
pinch of asafetida (hing)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon chana dal
1/2 teaspoon urad dal
3 fresh curry leaves
1 dried red chili
1 handful frozen fresh grated coconut
juice of 1/2 lemon
cilantro for garnish, chopped
salt to taste


Heat oil under a medium flame. Put in a pinch of hing or asafoetida, mustard seed, urad dal and chana dal.


urad dal and Indian spice box (dhaba)
When the mustard seed starts popping and the dals start browning, put in the curry leaf and broken up chili pieces. Mix everything around for 10 seconds until everything is coated with oil:


tempering fresh curry leaves and dried red chili in oil


Next throw in the green beans and mix it all up.


seasonal purple, green and yellow string beans from the farmer's market


Add a little bit of water, turn the heat to low, cover and cook until the beans are almost tender. If you are using purple string beans, those beans should turn green when they are completely cooked.  Add the coconut and cook for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and add in the lemon and salt and mix well.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.
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