Friday, May 4, 2012

My Favorite Food Made Better

I love butter beans. Or, for you non-Southerners, lima beans. Growing up, my favorite foods were cornbread and milk, Chef Boyardee Spaghetti & Meatballs and butter beans.

You heard me right. A child whose favorite food was lima beans. That was me. But y'all, they are so good. Mind you, for them to be tasty (and not just hard little nuggets of pastiness) you have to cook them a while - about half an hour if they are frozen - and get them just a wee bit mushy.

When you get good butter beans, they have an awesome creamy taste to them. And I've been lucky enough to find some really awesome butter beans (baby limas, specifically, though I've found a few other tasty varieties, too) that are sold frozen in our grocery store (by 3-B Produce, just in case you happen upon the brand). Talk about buttery, creamy aftertaste. They are fantastic. Fan. Tastic.

I seriously thought that these butter beans could not get better. But tonight I found out that they can.

I have the recipe book Curry Cuisine which has a million and a half different curry recipes in it. Some of them I won't even attempt to try, but a fair number of them don't seem too intimidating. Mind you, I don't think I've ever been able to follow any of the recipes exactly (where exactly does one get black cardamom pods?) and a few of them have turned out to desperately need salt (how can something with so many different spices in it turn out bland?) but even with the hatchet jobs I do to things, I've never had something turn out worse than just pretty good from this book (especially once salt was added). (I did, however, make the lamb in rich onion sauce from this book for Easter... it said it should serve 4 but given that it has 6 onions and 5 tomatoes (I kid you not), I think "serves 14" would have been more accurate. It was wonderful, though.)

A while back I saw the butter bean curry recipe in here and huzzah! I love butter beans! I love curry! I want to make this! At one point a while ago, I did make it (but I was out of butter beans so I used English peas. It worked and was tasty but I still felt like I didn't get an accurate taste of what the recipe was supposed to be - you know, with the main ingredient being entirely different). So tonight I thought I'd make it again (but with actual butter beans this time).

Butter Bean Curry
Please ignore that the bowl was half eaten. I didn't decided I needed a picture until we were already eating. It was that good.

Mind you, I only followed the barest hint of the recipe. Mostly the fact that I used butter beans (though not in the form the suggested and I cooked them differently) and about half of the types of spices they called for. Since I'm not sure that the authors of the book would actually recognize that my dish came from their recipe, I don't feel bad sharing it. So here it is!

Butter Bean Curry (Adapted)

- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 1¼ inch ginger root, fresh, peeled and grated
- 2 large garlic cloves, grated
- 1¼ cup crushed tomatoes
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ¾ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 dashes cayenne (or more)
- 1½ pounds butter beans (or baby lima beans), frozen
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- salt, to taste

1. Put the frozen butter beans in a pot. Add water until butter beans are just covered. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes. While the butter beans are cooking, prepare the other ingredients (onions, ginger & garlic, carrots, spices, etc).
2. Heat the oil in a deep cast iron pan. Add the onions and soften over low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir in the grated ginger and garlic and continue frying until the onions are flecked golden.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until they darken slightly. Add carrots and the spices (coriander, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, garam masala & cayenne). Cook briskly for a minute before adding ⅔ cup hot water. (The butter beans should be done at this point. Set the pot aside. Don't drain it - instead, use the liquid from the pot in place of the water.) Cover the pan and simmer until the carrots are just tender (about 10 minutes).
4. Add the butter beans and another ⅔ cup hot water. Half cover the pan and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add more water if needed. (Honestly, I just dumped the rest of the pot in. Not too watery at all!)
5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and service with boiled rice.
Seriously, it's delicious! Dan even said he thought it was the best curry I've done to date (and that's saying a lot because I've done a lot of curry) and even though I'm full, I kind of want to have more. Right now.

Mmm, butter beans.


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