I wonder what Indians in India think of those of us in America, who are so attracted to their cuisine when it is cold, blustery and snowy or rainy out? It is one of those great ironies of the culinary world (what? You didn’t know the culinary world could be ironic?), that those spices which we consider so warming here in the land of 4 seasons do not actually grow anywhere that anyone needs warming. Quite the opposite.
It used to be an ongoing source of dispute between John and myself, because he would crave Indian food and I would refuse to eat it because it was too hot out (I am not a picky eater but I am an extremely moody eater). Luckily those days are over–I have discovered Indian dishes that cook more quickly and I also have developed an appreciation and devotion to this cuisine that completely eclipses any moodiness I might have about spicy bean stews in the summer. Bring it on 12 months out of the year, I say! But the fact remains it is extra comforting November through March.
This is a Punjabi style kidney bean curry, that I have adapted a bit from a recipe in How to Cook Indian: More Than 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Kitchen by Sanjeev Kapoor–and therefore I really have no idea if it is still Punjabi. Someday, I am going to beg some expert on Indian cuisine to make me a map detailing what areas use (or eschew) which spices, so I will know whether I am rendering this completely un-Punjabi by adding mustard seeds and amchur powder, for example. But whatever it is, it’s delicious. We cleaned the pot (over several nights of course–I know my meals are large, it is because we believe in leftovers in this family).
- 1 lb dried kidney type beans, I used Rancho Gordo's Black Valentine beans
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of turmeric
- salt to taste
- 1 t dark mustard seeds
- 1 t cumin seeds
- 4-5 T vegetable oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 large red onions, chopped
- 3-inch piece of ginger, minced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T paprika, or something hotter, like cayenne, if you prefer
- 1 1/2 T ground coriander
- 1/2 t turmeric
- 2 t ground cumin
- 3 small-medium zucchini, chopped
- 2 sweet bell peppers, chopped
- 4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, chopped (I used peeled frozen)
- salt to taste
- 2 t garam masala, to taste
- 1 t amchur powder
- 2 T brown sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon, to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro for garnish, I left out because I did not have but it would be good
Start the beans earlier in the day (or better yet, start soaking the night before). Place them in a pot and cover them with cold water by 2 inches. Add the onion, garlic and oil. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric. Then cover to maintain a very gentle simmer. Check the pot periodically to make sure the beans are still well covered by water--add more if necessary. When the beans are tender, add 1 teaspoon of salt. After 10 minutes, taste for more salt. Then turn off the heat and leave the beans covered until needed.
Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil and the mustard seeds--cover the pot and listen for popping. When the popping slows down, sprinkle the cumin seeds in with the bay leaves. Cook until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds (cumin seeds burn easily, so watch the pot). Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of water if they start to scorch, until they are caramelized a dark golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute, stirring. Then add the paprika, coriander, turmeric and cumin. Stir to incorporate and roast, for about 30 seconds. Then add the zucchini and bell pepper with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and stir to to mix in.
Let the tomatoes simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. Then add the beans with all of their cooking liquid to the pot. Mix and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste--start with 1/2 teaspoon, and let gently simmer, covered, until you are ready to serve (it can cook this way for an hour 2, at most the beans will just get super soft and you may need to add a splash of water or 2 to keep the dish stew-like).
Mix in the brown sugar, amchur powder, garam masala and lemon juice. Taste for additional salt, lemon juice or garam masala. Serve with flatbread or over rice, garnished with cilantro and plain Greek yogurt.
As always, affiliate links were used in this post, only to link to products I would be linking to anyway.