Recipe: Paruppu Usili/Tamil-Style French Beans

Paruppu Usili is South Indian-style French beans cooked with dal, that you might have eaten at weddings and authentic Southie thali restaurant.

This recipe came to me via a Tamil relative and we have it on at least one Sunday in a month, with the weekly dose of rice, appalam, rasam or mor-kuzhambu and raita. And the husband adds his fried fish to the mix.

It’s a very enjoyable way to eat a vegetable as pedestrian as beans — take my word for it.

I choose to use toor dal (or pigeon peas, also called yellow split peas) while making Paruppu Usili, but you could use channa dal or Bengal gram (needs about two hours advance soaking) or yellow mung.

Paruppu Usili

Serves: 3-4


  • ¼ kg French beans, chopped fine
  • ¾ cup toor dal or pigeon peas, soaked
  • 4-5 boriya chillies or round red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp + ½ tsp hing or asafetida
  • 2 tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp white urad dal or white gram, preferably whole, else split
  • 12-14 curry patta or curry leaves
  • ½ to 1 tsp chilly powder, optional
  • Oil to grease the plate


  • Coarsely grind the pre-soaked dal in a blender or mixer with the red chillies, a little salt and ½ tsp hing.
  • Fill a pressure cooker or a large wide saucepan (that has a lid) with 2 inches water and place 1-2 inverted steel katoris or bowls in it, preferably flat ones.
    Oil a round steel plate that will fit in the cooker, or pan, on top of the katoris.
    Spread the ground dal onto the steel plate.
    On top of the dal spread the beans.
    Place inside the cooker or pan.
    Cover and steam (without the weight if using a pressure cooker) for about 10 minutes till the colour of the beans starts to change.
    Take off heat and open up the cooker or pan and allow it to cool a bit.
  • Heat ½ tbsp of the ghee and the urad dal in a heavy-bottomed kadhai or saucepan, over medium heat.
    When the dal starts changing colour and turns pinkish add the rai.
    When it begins to pop add the hing.
    And then the curry pattas and the steamed dal-beans mixture and break the larger dal pieces down with a spatula.
    Add salt and ½ tbsp ghee.
    Fry about 3-4 minutes.
    Add the chilly powder, if needed.
  • Serve with rasam, pickle and rice (the better the quality the more ideal).

Zelda’s Note: For a healthier or vegan version, replace the ghee with oil.

If you prefer, instead of French beans, use cluster beans or gavarphali.


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