Yardlong Beans & Fish Curry

Yardlong beans & fish curry
Yardlong beans & fish curry with joha rice and salad

If it’s hyacinth beans in winter, summer’s for yardlong beans. They go by other names too such as snake beans or Chinese longbean. In Dimasa, my mother tongue, they are known as Shbai daobu which translates to ‘intestine beans’, the obvious reference to the length of the vegetable.:) Although I cook them in a few ways, one favourite way is adding them to fish curry. Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with this ‘addiction’ of mine. And it was with a simple lunch today that these dark green yardlong beans made another appearance on our table.
And I used coconut milk again as we had harvested a few coconuts the other day. And there’s nothing like using freshly-squeezed coconut milk from one’s own tree! My one and only tree isn’t doing really well as we live in a low-lying area and our ground is sodden. And on top of that ours is a region of high rainfall. But I’m glad we can still get some coconuts and they are sweet. 

Ingredients:(to serve 4)
250 grams yardlong beans
8 fish fillets
1 large onion, peeled and cut
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
A small piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, cut into thin slices
1 tsp red chilli powder
2-3 ripe red chillies, scored lengthwise but kept intact at the stalk-end
1 sprig curry leaves
A dash of turmeric powder+ extra to rub on the fish fillets
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp coriander powder (toasted and ground)
1/2 tsp cumin powder (toasted and ground)
Coriander leaves for the garnish
Vegetable oil
1 medium coconut, grated and milk extracted (the one I used for my recipe was smaller than the ones in the picture above)

Yardlong beans &fish curry


  • Rub the fish fillets with a mix of salt and turmeric and set aside as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Top and tail the beans and string them as well. Cut them into similar lengths.
  • Blitz the onion, garlic and ginger together.
  • Heat some oil in a kadhai and shallow fry the fish pieces, a few at a time. Fry for a few minutes till they turn golden. They should be half done. Remove and set aside.
  • In the same oil, add the slit ripe chillies. Fry for a minute and remove from the oil. These will be used for the garnish later.
  • Throw in the curry leaves and when they sputter, add the wet spices and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the rest of the dry spices and the cut beans. Fry till the beans are almost done.
  • Season with salt. Check and make adjustments.
  • Pour about 1/2 a cup of water and let the curry come to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the coconut milk and the fish pieces.
  • Let the curry simmer for another 4-5 minutes. By that time it will thicken a bit and the fish will be well-cooked.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the fried red chillies and coriander leaves.

This curry goes best with rice. I kept the spices minimal as I wanted the coconut milk to shine. And it did! The fish I used was catla (major Indian carp), known as bhokua in our parts.
The rice I cooked today was joha rice. It’s fragrant and my home state, Assam, is the largest grower of this rice in our country. Certain vegetables like ash gourd and sponge gourd that are fragrant are known by the same name as the rice. Like joha kumora for ash gourd and joha bhol for sponge gourd.

The meal had only one side dish in the form of this salad. One onion,one tender cucumber and one tomato were cut into rings and placed on a plate. Strips of serrated coriander were sprinkled on top. The dressing was salt and freshly-grated pepper with a drizzle of mustard oil.

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