White bean curry is a delicious creamy Indian curry made by cooking cannellini beans in an Indian style onion-tomato sauce flavored with Indian spices. This vegan curry gets ready in just 25 minutes.
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I see dark clouds outside my window today- a rare view in Dubai. To celebrate this beautiful weather, what could be better than a bowl of piping hot curry with some fragrant basmati rice?
So, I am making Indian-style white kidney bean curry also called cannellini bean curry or white rajma curry. If you have boiled/ canned beans this curry gets ready in just 25 minutes and tastes delicious.
It's vegan and gluten-free.
What goes in white bean curry?
To make Indian white bean curry, you will need the ingredients shown below:
- White kidney beans also known as cannellini beans: In India kitchens, usually beans are cooked from scratch and canned beans are not used in recipes. I also prefer that method and always cook beans at home. However, if you don't want to do that, use canned beans. And, if you want to learn how to cook white beans at home, check the method I have shared in this post later.
- Whole spices: I have used bay leaf, black peppercorns, black cardamom, and cumin seeds. You may add or remove 1-2 whole spices depending upon the availability and taste preference.
- Kasoori methi: Kasoori methi is dried fenugreek leaves. It gives a very nice smoky flavor to the Indian savory dishes and completely transforms the taste of a dish. I have seen a lot of people suggesting substitutes for kasoori methi but I believe nothing else tastes similiar to kasoori methi and it cannot be replaced. Even fresh fenugreek leaves don't give a similar result. So, if you like Indian food, I would suggest keeping kasoori methi in your pantry. It's easily available online as well as in the spice section of Indian groccery stores.
- Red chili powder: Red chili powder is added for two reasons- for adding heat and also for adding color to a dish. You will find different varieties of red chili powder in the market. If you want to add it to make the dish more spicy use a hot red chili powder. If you want to add mild heat and a bright red color to the dish, use Kashmiri red chili powder. Cayenne pepper and paprika can also be used in curries.
- Garam masala: Garam masala is a blend of Indian spices which is used to flavor Indian dishes. It has a very strong flavor so add it carefully otherwise, the other flavors in your dish will get lost. It tastes the best if added once the dish is cooked.
- Cooking oil: Use any neutral flavored oil of choice.
How to make?
Prepare masala: Heat oil in a cooking pot and add all the whole spices to it. Once the spices stop spluttering add chopped onion and garlic. Cook until the onion starts turning brown.
Once the onion is cooked, add coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, ground black pepper, and kasoori methi. Saute for about a minute and then add tomatoes, green chilies, and salt. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
When the tomatoes are nicely cooked and tomato paste. Cook for a minute. Adding tomato paste is optional, if you want, you can skip it.
Mix beans with masala: Once the masala is cooked, add boiled or canned beans to it. If using canned beans rinse them before adding to the curry to get rid of the metallic taste and smell.
Add water to get the desired consistency and let the curry simmer for a few minutes and allow the flavors to blend.
Final flavoring: Once the curry is cooked, switch off the stove. Add lemon juice, coriander leaves, and garam masala. Mix everything.
Step by step photo instructions
How to cook cannellini beans from scratch?
To cook cannellini beans from scratch, wash them and then soak in water for at least 7 hours or overnight. After 7 hours, use any of the methods given below to cook them.
Pressure cooker: If using a pressure cooker, put the beans in the pressure cooker along with around 3 cups of water and some salt. Put the lid on and cook on a medium flame till 4-5 whistles or until the beans turn soft. The beans are now ready to be used in any recipe.
Regular pot: If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can cook the beans in a regular pot too. However, it will be a time-consuming process. It will take at least 1 hour to cook white beans in a regular pot with a lid on. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, put the beans along with around 7 cups of water and cook covered on medium flame. After 45 minutes of cooking, keep checking and stirring after every 10-15 minutes and add more water, if needed. Cook until the beans turn soft. They should be soft but not mushy i.e. they should retain their shape but should get easily pressed between two fingers.
White bean curry is always served hot. It goes well with rice as well as any Indian bread like roti, naan, or paratha.
I prefer having it with simple Indian rice dishes like plain steamed basmati rice or jeera rice. If you want you can also serve it with other rice dishes like vegetable rice, lemon rice, or cabbage rice.
If you are planning a whole Indian meal, also serve Kachumer salad, tomato chutney or mint chutney, and one Indian vegetable dish like aloo gobhi, aloo methi, bhindi masala, or aloo matar gajar, on the side.
A bowl of this bean curry can also be enjoyed as a vegan protein-rich soup.
To store, transfer the bean curry to an airtight container and refrigerate, it will be fine for 2-3 days.
White bean curry freezes well. To freeze, put the curry in batch-size airtight containers and keep them in the freezer. It will be fine for 3-4 months.
To serve either microwave it for a few minutes or just heat in a pan.
For a fresher taste, you can temper it again with some spices.
Otherwise, you can also freeze plain boiled beans. When you want to enjoy the curry just prepare a fresh onion tomato masala then add frozen beans and some boiling water to it. Cook for a few minutes, garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy.
Recipe tips and tricks
- For a creamier curry, mash around a ladle full of cooked beans and add to the curry. Then allow it to boil for a few minutes. The curry will be thicker and creamier.
- Cannellini beans get cooked faster then other beans like red kidney beans or chickpeas, so if you are cooking them at home, cook for a shorter period in comparision to these other beans.
- If possible, cook beans from scratch at home. The curry will be tastier and healthier.
- If you are cooking beans at home, don't discard the water in which it was cooked. Use it in the curry, it will be creamier and thicker.
- When using canned beans, rinse them properly to get rid of the metallic taste which comes from most canned food.
- If you don't like to get the pieces of onion and tomato in curry, instead of using chopped onion and tomato, make their separate pastes in a food processor and then use in the recipe.
- You can also remove the bay leaf and black cardamom once the curry is cooked.
- Add garam masala in the end once the dish is cooked. It will give better flavor.
- For more flavor, vegetable stock can also be added instead of water.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, they both are the same. White kidney bean is also called cannellini bean.
Yes, you can make white bean curry using every type of white bean be it navy, lima, or any other. Their cooking time and texture may vary slightly but they all taste delicious.
Yes, beans are naturally gluten-free.
More Indian bean curry recipes
If you liked this recipe then don't miss to check more easy Indian bean curry recipes:
More white bean recipes
Looking for more white bean recipes from different countries? The following links are worth trying:
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White bean curry
- `1 Cooking pot
- 2 cups boiled/ canned white beans
- 1 medium-sized red onion finely chopped
- 2 medium-sized tomato finely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 green chili finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tablespoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon kasoori methi
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon mustard oil/ any cooking oil
- 1.5 cups water/ vegetable stock
- Heat oil in a pan. Add dried whole spices and saute for a few seconds.
- Add chopped onion and garlic. Saute until the onion starts turning brown.
- Add coriander powder, red chili powder, crushed kasoori methi, turmeric powder, and ground black pepper. Also, add 1-2 tablespoons of water so that the spices don't get burned.
- Saute the spices for about a minute and then add tomatoes, green chili, and salt. Mix everything and cook until the tomatoes turn mushy and are nicely cooked.
- Add tomato paste and saute for about a minute.
- Next, add boiled beans and cook with the onion-tomato paste for around 1-2 minutes.
- Add water and cook for around 5 minutes.
- Switch off the stove. Add garam masala, lemon juice, and fresh cilantro. Mix everything.
- Serve hot with rice, roti, or naan.
- Cannelini beans get cooked faster than most of the other beans. So, if you are planning to cook them at home, cook for a lesser time.
- For a thicker gravy, mash some of the beans and add to the curry.
- If using canned beans, rinse them before adding them to the curry.
- If you have cooked the beans at home, use the water in which they were cooked, to make the curry. The curry will get a thicker and creamier consistency.