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Beans Cooked in the Indian Manner


My online friend Arnab has a great site called Another Subcontinent: South Asian Society and Culture. It's worth checking out if you're even vaguely interested in Indian culture. In addition to the articles, fiction and music, there are forums where you can ask questions or just read.
Arnab, after an initial period of doubt about Rancho Gordo beans, has been come somewhat of a fan, I'm happy to say. In fact I'm happy to gloat, if necessary!

We've sold out of garbanzos for the season and it looks like we might be done with mayacobas as well, but I wanted to pass on his emails to me about cooking them. I think any mild bean, like the Cellini or Flagelolet, would make a fine substitute.

From Arnab:

okay, this is a little rough, but bear with me:

North Indian style Chhole (chickpeas)


1 packet Rancho Gordo Garbanzo Beans
4-5 cloves
a few pods green cardamom
1 medium onion, chopped fine.
3/4 tablespoon each of ginger and garlic paste, crushed in a mortar/pestle, or whizzed in a food processor
1.5 tspns of the following, ground together in a coffee grinder: 1/2 tspn turmeric, 1/2 tspn cumin seeds, 1/2 tspn coriander seeds, 1/3 tspn mustard seeds, 1/4 tspn fenugreek seeds*
1/2 tspn amchur (mango powder)
1/2 tspn red chilli powder. (you might call it cayenne, right?)
1 pinch sugar

For Garnish:

1/2 Lime
chopped onion to taste
a little chopped cilantro
1 hot thai green chilli (or chile, if you will), minced


Soak, and cook the Garbanzo beans till just al dente, as per your method of choice.

While the beans are cooking, heat some oil in a small saucepan, and add the cloves and cardamom pods. saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped onion and saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring all the while. As the edges of the chopped onion begin to brown, add the ginger-garlic pastes. Saute another 1-2 minutes, turn the heat down to medium, and add all the powdered spices. Saute 3-4 minutes, stirring all the while. Add the pinch of sugar, stir a little more, and pour the contents of the pan into the pot with the cooked garbanzo beans. Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot, and cook everything together for another 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat to incorporate flavours. Add salt. Pour into a serving dish, squeeze the lime juice all over, top with the chopped onions and cilantro and minced chilli. Serve with tortillas (preferable) or steamed rice.


Add a pinch of garam masala and stir 1 minute before taking everything off heat.
You could also add a chopped tomato after you've sauteed the spices. If you do, make sure it cooks down and the oil separates before you add the slurry to the beans.
If you have access to good tamarind, soak some pulp in hot water, strain and simmer with sugar to make a thick'ish, tangy sweet tamarind chutney, and lace the cooked beans with it.

*If you don't keep all the ingredients for the powdered spice mix around, you can substitute a curry powder of your choice (ideally, from an Indian store with high turnover). If you have access to a good Indian store, look to see if they carry packaged spice blends for "Channa Masala". If so, you could substitute that as well.

I then asked him about the mayacobas and he replied:

are you asking for a recipe for the mayacobas or if they can be cooked the same way? as it happens, i did more or less cook them the same way, except that with the mayacobas i used about 1.5 cups of chopped tomato (added after the powdered spices had been fried). left out the mango powder. the spice mix may have been a little different. i think i used more red chilli powder and less coriander seeds. there's no hard and fast rules to the blend--basically you want to remember that fenugreek seeds are very bitter, that coriander can overpower, and that the mustard's only there for a little bite.

you may recoil in horror, but when i first started cooking, my mother's advice about cooking dried beans was to cook them much the same way i would cook red meat. and that's more or less what i do. with the garbanzos i make them more tangy (with the mango powder) to gratify taste memory. of course, you wouldn't garnish most meat curries with loads of chopped onion or squeeze limes over them.

1 comment


In the realm of flavors, bean stew powder rules. Its red hot touch raises common dishes into remarkable culinary joys, making each nibble an experience.

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