I love the creamy, comforting taste and texture of gorgeous butter beans. These versatile pulses work well with both meaty and vegetarian meals alike. However, I most enjoy using them to create filling, hearty, vegetable dishes that satisfy even hardened meat lovers. Butter beans are also known as lima beans, because the Spanish first discovered them in Lima, Peru. They are full of protein and fibre, and contain minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which are so important for many of the body’s vital functions.
I like to encourage friends, family and clients to cook from scratch, but I also understand that most people want home cooking to be uncomplicated and quick, whilst still being full of amazing flavours. Tinned beans deliver on all fronts; it’s a good idea to therefore always have a few tins of different beans in the kitchen cupboard, so that you always have the main ingredient for a fabulous, hearty, wholesome meal such as this one, that can be prepared in no time at all.
My butter bean curry was a bit of a last minute idea, when I was invited to friends for supper. They wanted to make me their favourite marinated chicken curry, and I had offered to bring a vegetable side dish. I suddenly realised I had no vegetables to cook with, and also didn’t have time to go and buy any! I therefore decided to concoct something out of some store cupboard essentials…tinned butter beans. I was delighted with the result, and the last minute addition of a little coconut milk. It’s not a typical ingredient in much of the Indian cooking I do, but certainly works brilliantly in this dish. You can also use cannellini beans instead of butter beans in this curry too, as they have a similar wonderful creamy texture.
Anyway, this is so perfect for autumn/winter suppers. It’s simple, quick, and so nutritious. I think you’ll love it…they did.
Butter Bean Curry to serve 4:
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained and rinsed
200g chopped tomatoes (half a large tin)
A medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 small green chilli , finely sliced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 level tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp grated jaggery
50g block creamed coconut, soaked in a little hot water
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Salt to taste
A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Heat the oil in a saucepan and once hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they fizzle, add the cumin seeds. Throw in the onion and stir, before turning down the heat to medium. When the onions are nicely softened, add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Mix well and add the ground spices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring everything together, before adding the tomatoes and jaggery. Let everything cook for 10 minutes or so, until the tomatoes have been fully incorporated, and have thickened. Now add the beans, the coconut cream and a little water. Season well, and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes or so, adding more water if required. The gravy should be thick and creamy. Check seasoning again, and finish with the coriander thrown on top.
The curry was eaten with fluffy basmati rice, but it would also work well with naan bread or pitta bread.