Sunday lunch kidney bean curry

Sunday lunch kidney bean curry

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

One of our staple Sunday lunches, this is a Punjabi stalwart, loved by meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. It seems to be a dish that Indians across the subcontinent appreciate, regardless of their own regional cuisine, and one I get plenty of requests for online. So here it is. It might not look great on paper, but it is wonderful on the plate. I really prefer dried kidney beans here, as they have more flavour and a better texture. This does mean overnight soaking and a long cook in the morning, but aside from some forethought it’s no harder than using canned, and is more rewarding. (When I tested the recipe with canned beans, the sauce needed some help, see note.) Serve with plain basmati rice.


Quantity Ingredient
200g dried kidney beans, washed well and soaked overnight
1 small onion, roughly chopped
14g root ginger, roughly chopped, (peeled weight)
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large-ish tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, to taste
salt, to taste
large handful coriander leaves, chopped


  1. Drain the soaked beans and tip them into a large saucepan. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil. Boil hard for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a lively simmer and cook for 1½ to 1¾ hours. After they have been cooking for 1¼ hours, blend the onion with a little water until smooth. Separately blend the ginger and garlic in the same way.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the onion paste and cook until really well browned (it should look like chocolate), stirring often as it starts to brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until you can smell the garlic is cooked, around one minute after the water has dried up. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes with a stick blender until smooth and add them to the pan with the spices and seasoning. Cook this on a medium-low flame until it is completely cooked through and is very thick, resembling tomato purée, around 25 minutes.
  3. Drain the cooked kidney beans and reserve the cooking liquor. Add the beans to the tomato sauce and stir for one minute, then pour in 450 ml of the bean cooking liquor, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Throw in the chopped coriander, taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.

Cooking canned?

  • Use 2 x 400 g cans, drained and rinsed. You need to help out the flavourings, so add a bit more of everything else. Try 1 medium onion, 4 garlic cloves, 20 g root ginger and a little more ground cumin and coriander and garam masala. The method is the same. This version will have a slightly thicker sauce.
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