Indian-Style Green Beans and Potatoes

For years I've been all geared up about pressure cooking, so when I finally got to teach a Modern Pressure Cooking Workshop this past weekend, I was over the moon. Pressure cooking is a hard sell for places that host classes. It's just not sexy. Pressure cookers strike home cooks as risky and prone to explosions. But pressure cooking is IS sexy, and it's also very safe, and that we had a sold-out group this past Sunday only proves how groovy the folks are up in the Randolph/Tucker county area of West Virginia. It's about 3,000 feet up there, to be exact, so we needed a few extra moments of cooking time for a number of the dishes. (Note to chef-educators: when something does not turn out exactly as planned, blame the altitude!)

Here's one thing we made in the class, a summer staples I cook again and again: green beans and potatoes. Pull out your pressure cookers and snap to it.

Indian-Style Green Beans and Potatoes

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Is there any other veggie pairing as homey and adaptable as green beans and potatoes? Here, we’re adding turmeric and a few spices with ginger and garlic for an Indian feel, a riff on a recipe created by my friend Sara Alway in her adorable little book on companion planting, Soil Mates. But you could tinker with the aromatics and seasonings and take it in dozens of different flavor directions.

The doneness is the trick here. Some green beans are old and tough; some are young and tender. Some potatoes cook up in 4 minutes; others take longer. Also, I love it when my green beans get on the mushy side and the potatoes begin to fall apart. I’m guessing you don’t (if you do, awesome!) Use these cooking times as a guideline, checking after 4 minutes and cooking longer as needed.

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons whole black mustard seed, optional
  • 1 onion, diced or sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¾ cup vegetable stock, water, or whey
  • 2 pounds small redskin potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-2 pounds green beans, snapped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice for serving
  1. Heat the cooker over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the mustard seed and cook until the seeds pop.
  2. Immediately add the diced onion and cook until the onions begin to brown, about 5-10 minutes. You may need to lower the heat to keep the onion from burning. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, and coriander and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Stir in the water, stock, or whey, then add the potatoes and green beans. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the works. Lock on the lid, bring the cooker to pressure, and cook on the highest setting for 4 minutes (really I always need to go longer, more like 8 minutes, but start with 4). Release the pressure and take a peek in the cooker, poking a potato and green bean. If they are not yet tender, continue to cook in increments of 2-4 minutes.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked to your desired doneness, stir in the butter, if using. Taste for seasoning and add more salt. Unless you used whey, which is already tart, squeeze as much lemon juice over the vegetables as you like and serve.

Rosemary and Garlic Variation: Substitute olive oil for the canola oil, and omit the spices and ginger. Add a dried bay leaf and a sprig of fresh rosemary when you add the liquid and the vegetables.

Basil and Tomato Variation: Substitute olive oil for the canola oil, and omit the spices and ginger. Decrease the cooking liquid to ½ cup and add a few chopped fresh tomatoes instead. After it’s all cooked, throw in a nice handful of chopped fresh basil and maybe a little fresh oregano.

Down Home Version: Omit the canola oil, spices, and ginger. Render a few slices of bacon and cook the onion in that. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar over the cooked vegetables before serving. I especially like this preparation when the veggies are a little more cooked and the beans are army green.

*Sara also shared her own pressure cooker, a funky but not scary Hawkins, with me; it's what you see in the photo. Hawkins is a big brand in India, I guess, because the pamphlet that came with the cooker has a bunch of neato regional Indian recipes. Sara, if you want your cooker back, let me know! It's not hard to use at all. Perhaps it's time for me to host a an underground Modern Pressure Cooking Workshop in my own kitchen!