Pickled curry beans (kerrie-boontjies)

We re-discovered pickled curry beans when our friend Hannie, who invited us for dinner, opened a bottle of this delightfully tangy yellow-green salad. It was real tasty and is very traditional South-African.

Because Hannie grows runner beans in her garden, she uses 2 kg beans to make a large batch of just over 3 litres. If you want to cook just enough for a single meal, a small 250 gram bag of green beans from the local supermarket will make about 400 ml salad.

We like our curry beans to be quite spicy, but you can tame it easily by reducing the turmeric and curry.

Serves 6.


  • 250 gram fresh green beans
  • 1 medium onion (approximately 125 gram), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (90 ml) white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup (90 ml) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon (3 ml) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cornflour


  1. Fry the onion in a little olive oil or butter until soft.
  2. Rinse green beans under water and snap off the stems. Remove strings if present.
  3. Slice the beans finely, add to the fried onion and cook together until the beans start to soften. Take care not to overcook the beans, you want it to be al dente.
  4. Make the sauce while the onion and beans cook together: use the cornflour and a tablespoon water to make a smooth paste. Heat the rest of the sauce ingredients gently in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolved. Increase the temperature until it starts boiling, add the cornflour mixture and stir until thickened.
  5. Combine the sauce with the bean and onion mix. Bring it to the boil, remove immediately and let it cool down.

Serve cold as a salad.


If you want to make a larger batch to bottle and preserve, increase the ingredients as follows:

  • 2 kg fresh green beans
  • 1 kg onion
  • 3 cups (750 ml) white vinegar
  • 3 cups (750 ml) white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt
  • ½ cup (125 ml) cornflour

You will need enough preserving bottles for 3.2 litres.

Wash your bottles and sterilize in the oven for at least at for half an hour at 100°C.

Hannie’s method for bottled pickled curry beans is slightly different. Instead of frying the onions in olive oil, they are poached in boiling water: cover the onions with boiling water, drain after 15 minutes, and repeat.

Once the sauce is ready, add it to the bean and onion mix and boil together for a minute or two. Pour boiling mixture into sterilized bottles and seal.

Store opened bottles in the fridge.