South African Curried Kidney Beans

October 27, 2006 at 7:47 pm (Beans, B_, Derek's faves, Indian, Madhur Jaffrey)


This South African dish from a Gujarati cook is supposedly sweet and sour feast food. I didn’t detect much sweet or sour but the flavors were well-balanced and delicious. This dish is based on a recipe from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

  • 1.5 cups dried red kidney beans
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 3 whole dried hot red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • a generous pinch of asafetida
  • 10 to 15 fresh curry leaves, if possible
  • 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), grated on the coarsest part of the grater
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 fresh hot green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. peeled fresh ginger, grated to a pulp
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  1. Cook the beans in 6 cups of water until tender with 1 tsp. of salt. (I used my crockpot.)
  2. When the beans are cooked, pour the oil into a small pan (1.5-2 quarts) and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the red chilies, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and asafetida. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves and tomatoes. Stir once, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin, green chilies, garlic, ginger, sugar, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the spiced tomato mixture into the pan with the beans. Bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, on a very low heat, for 20 minutes.

My Notes

These seemed quite bland at first, but got tastier after they sat a while. I didn’t measure my water out carefully, which I think was the problem. Next time I’ll be more conscientious. But there will definitely be a next time, as I like kidney beans but don’t have any recipes for them and because this dish has an excellent, authentic Indian flavor. I left out the asafetida and cut down on the oil and salt. My beans weren’t quite salty enough though.

Update January 2008:  I used the correct amount of water this time, cooking the beans in my crockpot.  I added the asofetida as well, and it wasn’t noticeable to me in the final dish.   I didn’t have crushed tomatoes so I used 1 pound of crushed canned tomatoes, but I thought the final dish tasted a bit too tomato-y.  I’d use whole tomatoes next time I think. I thought the final dish was too watery; next time I’d cook the beans in only 4-5 cups of water, or as little as I could get away with while keeping them covered while cooking.   Again, I found this dish underseasoned, with not enough sweet or sour.  Was their tamarind in the original recipe that I left out here?  I need to go back and check, but if not, I think I’d add it.  I’d also increase the amounts of all the spices, probably double them.  Derek really liked this dish.  He didn’t think it was bland at all.

Rating: B-

Derek: B+

Update Nov 20, 2010:

I made this dish again using only 2 Tbs. of oil and only 5 cups of water.  I doubled all the seasonings except for the salt, chilies, curry leaves, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic.  I used one 400 gram can of finely diced tomatoes.  The beans came out quite strongly flavored, and very spicy, but were still quite soupy.  Derek loved the flavor, but it was a bit too intense for me.  Next time I think I’ll try doubling all the seasonings except the chilies, tomatoes, and salt.  I’ll use 2 cups of kidney beans rather than 1.5, 2 tsp. of salt, the full 6 cups of water, and all 3 Tbs. of oil.   By using more beans I’ll a) get more servings and b) be able to use a smaller water:bean ratio. I think the whole thing would fit in a 3- or 4-quart pot.

  • 2 cups dried red kidney beans
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 3 whole dried hot red chilies
  • 1 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • two generous pinches of asafetida
  • 20 to 30 fresh curry leaves, if possible
  • 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), grated on the coarsest part of the grater
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 small, fresh hot green chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. peeled fresh ginger, grated to a pulp
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt

With the above ingredients the nutritional stats are 23% fat, 58% carbs, and 19% protein:

Serving Size: 1/8 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 223
Total Fat 5.8g
Saturated Fat 0.8g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 701mg
Carbohydrate 33.4g
Dietary Fiber 8.3g
Sugars 4.2g
Protein 11.1g
Vitamin A 6% Vitamin C 34%
Calcium    6% Iron 21%
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