Beans, peas and lentils are some of the best vegetarian sources of protein available. They have respectable fibre content too. They are good for regulating blood sugar and the soluble fibre in them helps lower bad cholesterol. The different colours found in beans have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. There’s more to the colour difference between the various types of beans—the colours represent different phytonutrients. That’s why it is important to eat various kinds through the week.
Most Indian cuisines make good use of the beans/lentils by soaking and cooking them into dals or curries. There are some other interesting ways to use them such as salads, soups, burgers, chillies and dips. Mexican cuisine uses kidney beans in various recipes and chickpeas are liberally used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. These recipes will help you include beans to your diet in interesting ways.
Black eyed peas curry with freshly ground masala
Serves: 3 – 4
- ¾ cup white or red black eyed peas [Hindi: lobia, chawli]
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp garam masala powder or 1 tsp rasam/sambar powder
- Lots of chopped fresh coriander
To be ground into a paste
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped roughly
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup fresh coconut
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 3 dried red chillies
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- 1 medium cinnamon stick
- 3 – 4 cloves
- Use a pressure cooker with separators. In one compartment, place the soaked peas with just enough water to cover.
- Halve the tomatoes and place them in another compartment. No need to keep water in this compartment.
- If you want to serve this curry with rice, cook rice in the third compartment. Pressure cook for two whistles and keep on low flame for 5 – 7 minutes. Then, remove from flame and open when cool.
- The peas should be soft, yet should retain their shape. Tug off the tomato skins, mash with fingers and keep aside.
- In a large kadhai/wok, heat 1 tbsp oil. Then, add one tsp cumin seeds and a fat pinch of asafoetida.
- Once the cumin splutters, add the ground paste to the oil and fry on medium flame for around five minutes, until oil separates and the onion and garlic is cooked.
- To the cooked paste, add the cooked black eyed peas and the mashed tomatoes. Add turmeric, salt and garam masala powder. Bring to a simmer. If it’s too dry, add some water.
- Let this simmer for two minutes. Remove from flame and add fresh coriander.
Don’t have a pressure cooker? Boil the soaked beans in plenty of water for about 45 minutes [or until they become very soft]. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, peel and mash them with fingers and follow the rest of recipe as above.
Serve with steamed rice or rotis.
Chickpea Cabbage Salad
- 1/3 cup small chickpeas [chana], soaked overnight or for 4 – 5 hours
- 1 tsp oil
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium tomato, deseeded and diced
- 1 cup hung yoghurt
- Salt to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 tsp frankie masala or chaat masala or cajun seasoning
- A pinch of red chilli powder
- Shredded cabbage for garnish
- Roasted papad or baked tortilla chips / pita chips to serve with the salad [optional]
- Pressure-cook the soaked drained chickpeas with 1½ cups water until soft—it took me three whistles and 6 – 7 minutes on low flame. Since chickpeas have thick skin, they don’t turn to a mush easily, so nothing to worry here. When the cooker has cooled off, drain the water and keep the chana aside.
- In a wok, heat the oil. Add the asafoetida, cumin and mustard seeds.
- Once they splutter, add the onions and cabbage with a pinch of salt, stir for two minutes on medium flame till slightly soft. Remove from the wok and cool.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for dressing. Whisk well. Add the boiled chana, the cabbage-onion mix and toss to coat evenly.
- Garnish with shredded cabbage and serve with papad or baked chips.
Spinach Lentil Soup
- ½ cup split masoor dal [split red lentils]
- 2 cups of washed and cleaned spinach leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled
- 1 tsp oil or butter [ghee]
- Pinch of asafoetida
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Wash the masoor dal well and place it directly in a small-size pressure cooker.
- To this, add spinach leaves and garlic along with one cup water and pressure cook for two whistles and five minutes on a low flame.
- Once the contents have cooled, puree finely in a blender. Keep aside.
- In a saucepan, heat oil or butter.
- Add a tiny pinch of asafoetida, cumin seeds and ground black pepper.
- Once the cumin seeds splutter, add the pureed soup and water to achieve the desired consistency. Bring to a boil. Season with salt and some more pepper if required. Remove to a bowl.
Serve hot with soup sticks, bread or a salad.
Black eyed peas burgers
Makes: 12 medium-sized burgers
- 1½ cups of black eyed peas, soaked overnight
- 3 – 4 tbsp of coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 – 2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder [as per taste]
- 1 – 2 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 – 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- Oil to brush on the burgers
- Slices of bran or whole wheat bread/burger buns
- A cup of onion slices pickled in vinegar and salt
- A cup of sliced tomatoes
- A cup of grated carrots/cabbage
- Coriander chutney [optional]
Sauces of your choice: I used the Mexican chilli sauce [Medium hot salsa picanta] and the green Salsa Habanera [made from the hottest chillies in the world]
- Pressure-cook the soaked peas in four cups of water for two whistles. Keep on a low flame for five minutes. Switch off cooker. Cool and drain well.
Cook them in boiling water for 35 – 40 minutes till the beans are soft but not fully mashed.
- Preheat the oven at 200 degree celsius or heat your grill pan.
- Place the drained peas with the other ingredients for the burgers [except oil] in a bowl.
- Mash gently with a fork mixing all ingredients well. Taste for salt and spice.
- Shape into burgers 2” in diameter. Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil and bake for 15 minutes. You can also grill them on a stove-top pan or a grill.
- Assemble each burger between two slices of bread and the salad with your favourite sauces.