Beans and lentils have always come to my rescue for easy mid week meals. Can’t say for the kids, who love everything chicken, but my husband and I prefer to eat vegetarian food 4-5 days a week. This has led me to experiment with different flavour and texture combinations.
This Red beans Bell Pepper Curry is enjoyed very frequently in our weekly menu rotation. Red beans and rice are emblematic comfort foods in many cultures of the world, including Louisiana Creole, Latin American and Indian cuisines. Red beans and black eyed beans both are known as lobia in Pakistan and you can use either of them for this particular recipe. Even chickpeas make a great curry combined with Shimla Mirch(bell pepper).
With or without rice, beans make many delicious and healthy soups, salads and curries, rich in iron and protein. I find it very exciting to combine the meaty texture of red beans with some crispy vegetables.
Green bell peppers add an instant flavour, colour and texture contrast to this simple Lobia Shimla Mirch or Red Beans Bell Pepper curry. Soft cooked beans are added to a very tangy, tomato rich, sauce like curry which has a slight hint of sweet from brown sugar or jaggery. The whole thing is picked up by the fresh green flavours from bell peppers, green chilli peppers and coriander.
While red beans are delicious and filling and can make very frugal meal for a large family, some people find it difficult to digest them because of the complex sugar and phytic acid in them. Soaking them for several hours, changing the soaking water 3-4 times and slow cooking can help make beans more easily digestible. When I don’t have time to soak them and need to cook them fast in a pressure cooker, I always add ginger to my beans preparations because ginger really helps with digestion.
1 medium onion, sliced
4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
3 bell peppers
A pinch baking soda
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon brown sugar/jaggery
2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
Green chilli peppers and fresh coriander for garnishing
This Is What You Do:
Boil beans with a pinch baking soda and little salt till they are soft.
Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a deep pan. Fry onions till they are light golden. Add tomatoes, ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 cup water and cover the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the beans to the curry, add lemon juice and brown sugar. Mash up the beans a little bit with the stirring spoon to thicken the curry but not too much.
Add bell peppers, cover the pan again for 5 minutes or till bell peppers are tender but still retain their colour and texture. We don’t want them to get soggy. ( If you are not planning to serve the curry immediately then add bell peppers when you reheat it for serving).
Serve hot, garnished with chopped green chilli peppers and fresh coriander. Tastes great with steamed rice, plain flatbread or simply dig in with a spoon if you are watching your weight.