A salad greater than the sum of its parts that will dominate the dinner table delightfully. Works well with rice and sambhar, and with beet shami kebabs too.
NOTE: As tamarind paste varies from brand to brand, add it gradually until it tastes good to you.
Serves 4 as a side
½ cup desiccated or fresh grated coconut
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 banana shallots or other large shallots, sliced
1¼ cups unsalted cashews
1½ pounds green beans, trimmed
1½ teaspoons tamarind paste
1 cayenne pepper or slim red chile
¾ teaspoon salt
Put a large pan of water on to boil.
Next, put a frying pan over low to medium heat and, when hot, add the coconut. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until toasted and golden, keeping a (very) watchful eye on it so that it doesn’t burn, then tip onto a plate and leave to one side.
Put the oil into the same pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the shallots and fry for around 8 minutes, until they are soft and browning. Add the cashews, fry until golden, then take off the heat.
Meanwhile, put the beans into the pan of boiling water and cook for 4 minutes, or until tender (not too chewy but still nice and crisp to bite into), then drain and leave to dry.
Put the shallots and cashews back over high heat and add the beans, tamarind, chile, and salt. Once everything is sizzling, toss through most of the coconut. Check for seasoning, then take off the heat and serve immediately, scattering the rest of the coconut over the top.