Spices associated with curries,. such as turmeric, also have various health benefits /

National Curry Week is not just about celebrating the well-known meat dishes, as the cuisine has far more to offer than that. Julia Platt Leonard shares her favourite curried side dish

Curry doesn’t get a day of celebration; it gets a whole week. But is a week really enough? Shouldn’t we have the Year of Curry or – am I pushing it? – a whole decade? 

But what do we mean when we say ‘curry’? We might be talking about dishes like tikka masala, fiery vindaloo, creamy korma or rogan dosh, all made with a long list of spices.

Or we could be thinking about the place we go to eat these dishes – the curry house that’s around the corner or back home where the menu rarely/never changes and everything is made the way they’ve always made it. 

Curry is our go to food when we’re happy, sad, want to celebrate or commiserate. We eat it at the at the start of the evening to line our stomachs in preparation for the festivities ahead or at the end to soak up the spirits before bed. Probably not such a bad idea when you realize that the spices you find in curry dishes – turmeric, cinnamon and chilli and the like – are recognised as having powerful health benefits too. 

So I cast my vote for something longer than a week next year. Let’s push it out to at least a month. And if anyone suggests 2017 as the Year of Curry, they’ll get my vote. 

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Green beans with mustard seeds, toasted coconut & curry cashews 

Green beans with mustard seeds, toasted coconut & curry cashews 

This is super easy but it is important to toast the coconut, cashews as well as the mustard seeds. It will bring out the flavour (and colour) of the dish. I use a store bought curry powder but please feel free to make your own spice mix if you like. And go for hot or milder (as I’ve done here).

Serves 4 as a side dish

300g green beans 
15g coconut flakes
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
50g cashew nuts, whole or chopped
½ tsp curry powder
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 Tbsp coconut milk

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, top the green beans by snapping off the stem end (leave the curly tail intact).

When the water is boiling, salt generously. Add the green beans and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes. Test one every minute or so – it should be a bit flexible, tender but still firm. Drain in a colander and refresh with lots of cold water until cool. Set aside.

Heat a large frying pan (one that’s large enough to hold all the green beans comfortably) to medium high. Add the coconut flakes and toast until golden brown. Remove the coconut from the pan and set aside.

Place the cashew nuts into the same pan and again cook until lightly browned. Still on the heat, drizzle the vegetable oil over the nuts and sprinkle with the curry powder and a generous pinch of salt. Give a toss and cook for another minute or so before removing the nuts and setting aside. 

Place the mustard seeds in the pan and toast for a minute or two, then add the cooked green beans and the coconut milk. Give a stir and cook for a minute to allow the coconut milk to reduce down and the flavours to marry.

Don’t allow the coconut milk to boil. Place the bean mixture onto a serving plate, season with a bit of salt, then top with the coconut flakes and curry cashews. 

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