Sometimes the best meals come into your life quite unexpectedly and they stay with you forever – this is such a dish!
Many years ago I was planning a dinner party and one of the guests came with a painfully long list of dietary restrictions, chief amongst them being the double-act of inconvenience that is veganism and gluten intolerance! As I suffer from neither affliction, my instinctive response was just to cancel the dinner altogether, problem solved! Never one to back down from a culinary challenge, however, I decided to go ahead with the dinner after all and serve the mother of all vegan cuisines – I went Indian.
Your rogan joshs and butter chickens aside, Indian food is perhaps the most karma-conscious cuisine in the world. With a mind boggling array of vegan and vegetarian dishes to choose from, one is never short of tasty delights from the sub-continent. An Indian feast is always a great option for a dinner party as the multiple dishes needed, allow you to cater for a wide range of tastes and needs, all without compromising the overall success of the meal. Generally speaking, whether the dish be vegan or laden with meat, all Indian food goes well together.
Which brings me to this particular recipe. Lobia Khumbi (Black-eyed Beans with Mushrooms) is a great addition to any Indian spread, be it part of a full-on feast or humble midweek meal. Hearty, wholesome and filling, this dish is so good it could almost turn me vegan! Whilst the black-eyed beans add an earthy undertone that balances out the spices, the mushrooms are actually the star of the dish, adding a “meatiness” that appeals to both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. Add some tarka dhal and rice to the mix and you have a meal fit for the most pious (and discerning) monk. Who knew that good karma could ever be so damn dharma-delicious.
Note: this dish also makes an excellent alternative to your traditional sides dishes like mash potato, as it is mild enough to “fit” comfortably alongside most flavours. I recently served it with some pan-fried fish, sautéed kale and a tomato lemon butter sauce and it was absolute fusion-heaven!
Lobia Khumbi (Black-eyed Beans with Mushrooms): Serves 6
- 200g dried black-eyed beans (or 1 tin of black-eyed beans)
- 400g ripe tomatoes, skinned (or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp fennel or cumin seeds
- 3cm cinnamon stick
- 1 large onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 250g mushrooms
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- Soak the black-eyed beans overnight in cold water. An hour before you start to cook, drain the beans and place in a saucepan. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain throughly. If you can source a tin of black-eyed beans, then skip this step. Simply drain the beans from the tin and rinse them lightly just before using them
- If using fresh tomatoes start by skinning them, after which cut into quarters and remove the seeds. Place the quarters in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Only use the ripest tomatoes available, otherwise you are better off using a good quality tin of chopped tomatoes instead
- Finely chop your onion and mince your garlic, keep them separate. Cut the mushrooms into medium slices. Combine the ground ingredients in a small bowl (ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli powder)
- Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium flame
- Add the cinnamon stick and fennel/cumin seeds, let them sizzle in the hot oil until fragrant (about 20 seconds). Add the onions and continue to sauté until they start to turn a golden brown. Add the chopped garlic and fry for another minute
- Stir in the sliced mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes
- Add the combined spice mixture and fry with the mushrooms and onions for 30 seconds
- Add the puréed tomatoes and stir to mix everything together. Simmer for a few minutes and then reduce the heat, cover and cook for another 15 minutes
- Add the drained beans and coriander leaves to the saucepan. Add salt to taste (it can take quite a lot of seasoning). Stir to combine and the simmer for 30 minutes