All this talk of Tarka has got me itchin’ for Indian food. Not that I ever need an excuse. The new down south Clay Pit outpost serves casual sub-continent cuisine close to my home. Hopefully our family will dine there soon. Until then, seeing as how I discovered a bag of Whole Foods 365 organic lima beans way in the back of the freezer, we’ll make do with this adaptation of Yamuna Devi‘s recipe from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine (The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking). If you’re into Indian cooking, this incredible tome, despite its meatlessness, instructs indispensably on the incredible variety and breadth of that diverse and ancient country’s gastronomy.
This recipe is quick and easy. Don’t let all my notes scare you off!
INDIAN STYLE LIMA BEANS serves a couple of me, maybe several of you
- 1 pound bag of frozen organic lima beans. WF 365 brand is a good value.
- 3 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt. I use Diamond Brand.
- 2 generous Tablespoons very good butter such as Texas’ own Lucky Layla (best price usually at WF) or Organic Valley Pasture butter.
- a few shallots—YES! I found some this weekend at the Austin Farmers Market—sliced into thin rings or crescents, depending on size.
- 3 teaspoons turbinado sugar or 1 largish lump of jaggery (about the size of a smallish, in-shell pecan). If using jaggery, carefully cut it up a bit.
- 3/8 teaspoon paprika—use a little cayenne if the kids aren’t around.
- 3/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/8 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt. I buy Real Salt in bulk at WF. Don’t forget to bring your own container. They’ll tare the weight at the info desk.
- 2 Tablespoons organic lemon juice. You can also use lime juice. I have yet to find organic limes “out of stock” at Newflower Market.
- 2 Tablespoons organic raisins, chopped up a bit. I buy my plump and tasty dried grapes from Central Market’s bulk section. Bring your own bag. Don’t forget that you can run most of your plastic food bags right through the clothes washing machine—but not the dryer—for easy reusing.
- a handful of chopped, compatible local fresh herbs such as cilantro, dill, or parsley, if available
Bring your water and kosher salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Dump in the frozen beans, bring back to a boil and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving the liquid.
In the same pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and saute the shallots for just a minute. Add the beans back with about a half cup of the cooking water, plus the remaining ingredients except the herbs. Cook, uncovered, over medium to medium low heat until beans are glazed and tender enough for you. Stir in the herbs, if you have some, and serve soon for the plushest presentation. The beans glow their glossiest immediately after preparation, although they’ll still taste great later.
Save the rest of the cooking liquid for your next batch of home cooked beans or soup. It’ll keep in the fridge for a couple days. Freeze for longer storage.