Lobhia aur Khumbi with Masaledar Basmati
Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery (1982) is a bible for Indian cuisine. A go-to cookbook for Indian curries and rices and everything in between. Madhur’s recipes always work…without fail and without exception.
My favourite Madhur curry is Lobhia aur khumbi (Black-eyed Beans with Mushrooms). A surprising choice given my normal distrust of the spongy, fungusy oddity known as the mushroom.
I can testify that this curry has helped considerably in dealing with these ‘shroom trust issues.
This curry doesn’t have the knock-your-socks-off spicy heat that is often associated with Indian cuisine. This is good, because as much as I like a bit of spice, I can’t really handle anything much hotter than a biryani. However if you prefer the knock-your-socks-off spicy heat then crank up the amount of chilli and have a larger ready on hand.
Indian cuisine balances the different spices used to create a harmonious whole. So, as a rule of thumb, I follow the recipe when it comes to what spices and their quantities. However, I totally did not do that with this recipe. Mainly because I did not have the right spices to hand and so I improvised. In the end it turned out just fine. I’ve put Madhur’s recipe as it stands below, however where I needed to substitute one spice for another I’ve put the one I actually used in parenthesis. The same applies for the other changes that I made which (namely the amount of oil, which seemed a lot in her recipe).
If I really have time, I’ll make a bunch of sexy rice to accompany the curry. One of my favourite is Madhur’s Masaledar Basmati (Spiced Basmati Rice – recipe follows). Although, I don’t always have time, so often it is more sensible rice (think boil in the bag).
Lobhia aur Khumbi
225g dried black-eyed beans, picked over, washed and drained
2 pints of water
225g mushrooms (I used 250g instead)
6 tablespoons oil (I halved it)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (I used mustard seeds as I didn’t have any whole cumin seeds)
1” stick of cinnamon
150g onion, peeled and chopped (I found this to be one medium onion)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
400g tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used a can of tomatoes instead)
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed (I omitted this entirely as I didn’t have any)
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander or parsley (I omitted this)
Large frying pan
- In a heavy saucepan put the beans and water and bring them to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave for one hour.
- Prepare the mushrooms. Peel (or clean) the mushrooms and cut into 3mm slices.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the whole cumin seeds and cinnamon stick. Let these sizzle for a few seconds. If you used mustard seeds like me, then make sure you have the onion ready to go in the pan as soon as the seeds start popping. Otherwise you might end up with very hot, oily, mustard seed in your eye. Not cool.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Stir and fry until the onion browns slightly around the edges.
- Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to wilt and release their moisture. How long this will take depends on how much moisture is in the ‘shroom at the start.
- Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds or so. Then add the tomatoes and cook for another minute or so – I like to cook out the spices before adding the tomatoes though Madhur puts them in together. Cover the pan and the mixture simmer on low for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the flavours get to know each other better.
- Once the hour has passed for the beans, bring them back to the boil. Cover, turn the heat lower and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the beans are tender.
- Add the mushroom mixture to the beans. Add the salt, black pepper and fresh herbs. Stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for another 30 minutes.
- Serve with a sexy rice or sensible rice or naan. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
Masaledar Basmati (Spiced Basmati Rice)
As I mentioned above, this is one of my favourite sexy rice. Sexy rice being rice that takes a bit more effort than sensible, boil-in-a-bag rice. I love Basmati rice, though when I went to make this dish I realised that I only had Jasmine, so I used that instead and it worked absolutely fine.
Be warned that there are two periods of inactivity when making this – one when the rice is soaking and the other when it is draining. Just warning y’all. I forgot this and as a result my dinner was later than anticipated…but totally worth the wait.
To make this rice I used the MacGyver lid method which my Mum showed me. This involves placing a sheet of tinfoil underneath the lid and then clamping the lid down with a chopping board or similar. She may have learnt it from Madhur, I can’t remember but I associate it with my Mum…and MacGyver. The measuring method of rice may also seem odd, but it seems to work. I enjoy the rebellious feeling of measuring dry ingredients with a wet ingredients measure.
Basmati rice measured to the 15fl oz level (425ml) in a glass measuring jug (comes to 360g if weighing the rice)
3 tablespoons oil
50g onion, peeled and finely chopped (one medium onion)
1/2 teaspoon very finely chopped hot green chili, finely chopped (I used 1/4t of chili flakes instead)
1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped garlic (I used 1 clove of garlic)
1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoons salt
1pint of water
- Wash the rice in water several times, draining it off between each wash. Once washed, place the rice in 2 pints of water and let it soak for 30 minutes. Once soaked, leave it to drain for a further 20 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and over a medium heat and sauté the onions until they have browned slightly. Add the chili, garlic and garam masla and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook gently for 3-4 minutes, until the rice is coated in the spice goodness.
- Add the water, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low and cover tightly. This is where I used the MacGyver lid method. Cook for 25 minutes.
- Once cooked turn of the heat and let it sit for five minutes before de-MacGyvering.