Easy kidney bean curry

December 13, 2009

When I opened this book, I was hoping for a particular recipe. My dad has been making a Madhur Jaffrey kidney bean curry for years which I love – he usually serves it alongside her lamb rogan josh and maybe an aubergine dish, with naan bread and poppadoms. We had it for boxing day lunch last year and it was just the thing, after a brisk morning walk, to feel your tastebuds come around from too much turkey and chocolate the day before. I’m not sure of the ingredients, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot of butter that gives it its soothing, healing feel. Which means I was pretty certain, when I found the one kidney bean curry listed in the Curry Bible, that it wasn’t it. I almost passed over it, thinking there were plenty more new things I wanted to try.

Then, one lunchtime, I was home with an old can of kidney beans in the cupboard and not much else. I cast my eye over the recipe and it looked pretty straightforward – with not much chopping, food could be on the table in half an hour. And, while it may not be The One, this is surprisingly pleasing – of course, it’s a bean curry, it’s not going to be wildy exciting, but there are enough spices in there to make you take notice, mentally add another couple of cans of kidney beans to your shopping list, and carry on with your lunch.

Easy kidney bean curry  Serves 3 as a side, 1-2 if that’s all there is

I’m calling this ‘easy’ because I used a can, rather than the soaked dried beans the recipe calls for. I never use dried beans as much as I’d like. In lieu of simmering liquid, I simply tipped the contents of the bean can into the pan, brine and all. I know this is a bit icky, but it reduces down to a sauce pretty nicely and you’ll forget where it came from.

There are quite a few spices in here, but if you like to cook Indian food with any regularity you’ll probably have most of them in your cupboard already. You could probably leave out one or two things if you’re lacking them, without any great detriment to the recipe. The idea is that it’s convenient.

1 can red kidney beans
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
a generous pinch asafetida
5 dried curry leaves (or 10 fresh, if you happen to have them)
1-2 medium tomatoes, grated, or half a tin of chopped tomatoes
a pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 green chilli, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Pour the oil into a pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, which should be almost immediately, add the curry leaves and tomatoes. Stir once, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, chilli, garlic, ginger, sugar and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Tip in the beans, liquid and all. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Ultimate Curry Bible’.

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