Sunday, February 2, 2020

Madhur Jaffrey's South African Natal Red Kidney Bean Curry

Let the mustard seeds start popping! Last weekend I traded in some books at Half Price Bookstore, and it was must have been my lucky day, because I found a copy of Madhur Jaffrey's From Curries to Kebabs Recipes From The Indian Spice Trial from 2003. It was a massive score because I didn't even know this book existed and let me tell you, it is FULL of the most delicious and comforting curries, not to mention some delectable looking kebabs, and everyone loves a kebab.

There is sure to be one curry after another here on Stirring the Pot this winter. A quick look through the cookbook had me making a list of specialty ingredients my store doesn't carry.  Plus I needed to stock up on some necessary spices. Sometimes Amazon is a necessary evil and I reluctantly placed an order for some dried red hot chiles, dried curry leaves, cumin, hot curry powder, and some cumin seeds. A few days later I had all the necessary ingredients on hand to make several dishes in this book.

I set about by soaking my red kidney beans and adding baking soda to them, which was a trick I learned from Yotam Ottolenghi. The baking soda tenderizes the beans. The next day I set about cooking the beans so they would be ready the following day when it was time to make the curry. The baking soda trick worked because my beans only needed about half the cooking time suggested, around an hour. I saved my bean cooking liquid just in case. I was glad I did.

The next day I was making a delicious and comforting bean curry in under a half-hour.  I set about making the tomato mixture, adding all the fragrant spices and chiles, testing and tasting the mixture along the way. While taste testing, I found that while delicious, I wanted and craved more garlic, green chile, dried red chile, ginger. So I doubled all those ingredients.

The result was an extremely spicy, fragrant, flavorful, and comforting vegan curry that was an absolute dream over rice. I highly recommend this recipe. Again, it is perfect for people on all diets, healthy and nutritious, plus also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

I can already tell this Madhur Jaffrey cookbook is going to be one of my all-time faves. We've cooked with 19 chefs at I Heart Cooking Clubs and I can honestly say that Madhur's recipes have been the most reliable and are always a hit. I've yet to cook one that wasn't remarkable.

Natal Red Kidney Bean Curry
Adapted From Curries to Kebabs
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 6

1-1/2 cup dried kidney beans
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 whole dried hot red chiles
1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
a generous pinch of ground asafetida*
10 to 15 fresh curry leaves, if available*
3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), grated on the coarsest part of a grater
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 2 fresh hot green chiles, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon peeled fresh ginger, grated to a pulp
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste

Note: I used dried curry leaves because it was all I could get my hands on. I feel as though they worked fine. I did remove them prior to eating. Ground thyme can be substituted for ground asafetida. I have done it numerous times. I added double the garlic and ginger listed above for additional flavor and also for their immune support. The original recipe did not mention the bean cooking liquid, but I saved mine and added about a cup to the curry. I feel as though you would want to do the same as the tomato mixture isn't enough to create a comforting base without it.

Cover the beans generously in water, add the baking soda (helps to tenderize them), and leave to soak overnight. Drain the next day, put in a medium-large pan, add 6 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Partially cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 2-2-1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender. You will notice that you should have about a cup of bean cooking liquid leftover. Save this and use this later on when you add the tomato mixture.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the red chiles, 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 chiles, garlic, ginger, sugar, and salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

When the beans are tender, pour the spiced tomato mixture into the pan with the beans and the remaining bean liquid. Note: If you have over a cup or so of bean cooking liquid you may wish to strain some. Bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, on very low heat, for 20-25 minutes. 


  1. What an amazing find! I didn't know this book existed either. Can't wait to see what else you make from it!

  2. Thanks for this curry post, full of information on the ingredients, short cuts and above all, a good curry cookbook. I have to say, mastering curry remains one of my challenges. Good tips all around.


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