Benjamin Cooper's turmeric spiced butter beans

Budget-friendly beans on toast, pictured with pan-fried kale (optional).
Budget-friendly beans on toast, pictured with pan-fried kale (optional). Photo: William Meppem
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Vegetarian

I love braised beans, so when I found a recipe for butter beans in Tin Cho Chow's brilliant Burmese cookbook Hsa* Ba many years ago, I had to create my own version. The beans work well with so many things, including barbecued chicken, roast lamb, pork sausages, roasted cauliflower or grilled eggplant. And they're absolutely delicious the next day for breakfast with toast, eggs and bacon. They become an amazing vehicle for whatever you feel like adding.

Ingredients

100ml oil (extra virgin olive oil or peanut work well)

1 medium brown onion, finely sliced

3-5 garlic cloves, finely sliced

large pinch sea salt

good pinch black pepper

1 tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp sweet paprika

2 x 400g cans butter beans*

400ml can coconut milk (or replace with stock or water**)

250ml-300ml water or stock to cover

fish sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha or soy sauce to finish, optional

Cost breakdown

Onion $0.41

Garlic $0.38

Ground turmeric $0.28

Ground coriander $0.04

Sweet paprika $0.02

Butter beans $2

Coconut milk $3.50

Total $6.63

Method

1. In a heavy-based pot gently warm the oil and add the sliced onion and garlic, salt and pepper. Cook the onion mix until golden. Add in the spices, turn down the heat and cook until fragrant and the oil has taken on a deep golden-red hue.

2. Add the beans and cover with the coconut milk (if using) and stock or water and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for several minutes then reduce to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the mixture doesn't catch, until tender. (If you're using dried butter beans, you will need to add more liquid and cook for a further 30 minutes or so.) At this stage you can decide how you wish to eat the beans: add more liquid to make them saucier or let the liquid evaporate. If you like, you could fold through some baby spinach or pan-fried kale (pictured) at the end, or add slices of pan-fried sausage.

3. Add condiments to taste and serve with cooked rice or toast. Whichever way you go, it's a great dish to have in the fridge, so don't be afraid to make a slightly bigger batch.

*You can also use 400g of dried beans soaked in cold water overnight. Add at step 2 with the water or stock but remember to salt at the end rather than the beginning.

**These can be vegetarian, vegan (avoid the fish and oyster sauces), or made with stock rather than coconut milk.

Note: The addition of chilli never hurts, either. You could add chilli flakes with the other spices or drizzle with sriracha or chilli oil at the end. 

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