Friday, August 9, 2013

Kidney Beans - Curry and Chocolate

Photos by Steve Shanahan
 First published Canberra Times 8 August 2013 and goodfood.com.au


My memory of the 70s is crammed with images of noisy, shared houses, furnished from Vinnies, with the compulsory turntable, massive speakers and walls lined by a million LPs in scavenged milk crates. Fashion crimes were abundant and often involved Indian toe thongs and wrap around maxi skirts. In the background of this joyous chaos was the usual large pot of red kidney beans and vegetables simmering atop the faded green Early Kooka.

If you have something a little more exotic in mind for that tin of kidney beans lurking in the back of the pantry cupboard, then try these genius recipes.

With kidney beans touted as a miracle food that claims to lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart attack, is high in iron, fibre and vitamins, I decide to increase our intake of these super legumes and reduce the amount of meat in our diet.

The comforting Red Bean Curry is an authentic North Indian dish that is a snack to prepare and contains basic ingredients from the cupboard. Unlike many curries, you can make this in less than an hour. Just make sure you have plenty of fresh ginger on hand. I spike the curry with extra chilli and serve it with Bombay Potatoes as a side dish.  

The recipe for Magic Bean Cake hails from a Thermomix recipe converted to a conventional method and requires the use of a food processor. You can make this cake using a blender and an electric mixer if you don’t have a food processor. Although this dense, silky cake is far from conventional, it is equally at home as a kids birthday cake or a dinner party dessert.  Best served with creme fraiche.  The added benefits of this cake is that it is low in sugar and is gluten free.

Serves 4
Red bean curry

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne
240g tin chopped tomatoes
850g of canned red kidney beans, undrained.
½ cup chopped parsley and coriander
1 large green chilli, deseeded and chopped


Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan over a medium heat for one minute. Add the ginger, garlic, onion, green chilli and mustard seeds and let sizzle for about one minute. Add the crushed tomato, salt and remaining spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the undrained kidney beans plus one cup of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered for ten minutes. Remove from heat and serve with Bombay Potatoes, boiled rice and naan. Top with a dollop of yoghurt and chopped herbs.

Bombay potatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
¼ tsp brown mustard seeds
pinch of chilli powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
350g potatoes, boiled till soft, quartered and well drained
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, chilli powder, turmeric and salt, stirring for thirty seconds.

Add the chopped potatoes and fry for about four minutes, until the potatoes are smothered in seeds and have crispy edges. Reduce the heat and cover the pan, cooking for a further five minutes. Serve with the curry as an accompaniment.

Magic bean cake
420g can of kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp black coffee
70g dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
125g softened butter
5 eggs at room temperature
160g sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a food processor, puree the kidney beans, coffee, one egg and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

Using the same bowl of the food processor, combine butter and sugar, processing until pale.

Add the remaining eggs one at a time, processing until mixed after each addition. Add the bean mixture, then the sifted cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to the mixture, processing until mixed through and smooth.

Pour the batter into a twenty-two centimetre greased round cake tin or a silicone loaf tin, baking for approximately thirty-five minutes. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before turning out. To serve, dust with icing sugar and a dollop of creme fraiche or yoghurt or topped with a cream cheese icing.