Thursday, 29 November 2012

Black Eyed Beans Usal (Chowli beans)

For lunch, you will always catch me eating a small bowl of beans with a chappati or two and a salad. Its my way of trying to cut down the calories and keep it healthy. There are so many dried variety of beans and each one has its own distinct taste. To save on cooking time, it is best to soak the beans overnight in water. Just before I go to bed, I usually take a cup of dried beans and soak them in a bowl of water, about two inches above the beans. I have always cooked my beans in a pressure cooker. Even then they take pretty long to get nice and soft. So I can't imagine how long they would take otherwise.

Now I am going to share a little secret with you. This is something my mum taught me. But its this ingredient that when added makes the dish complete. Are you ready for it?? its a tablespoon of barbecue sauce. Bet you are thinking, "WHAT?? did I just read that right?" It works like magic on  black eyed peas and on the red kidney beans, rajma. Haven't tried the sauce on any other variety. It gives a hint of smokiness from the barbecue sauce and does something to the dish that I can't really explain.

black eyed beans usal (chowli beans)
Black eyed beans Usal

1 cup dried black eyed beans(soaked overnight in water)
1 onion chopped fine
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 green chillies chopped fine, seeds and all
1 tbsp barbecue sauce

For garnish:
1 onion chopped fine
1 tomato chopped fine

In a pressure cooker, heat oil, and sautee the onions and ginger garlic paste. Add salt to taste, and the tomato paste. Now add in the spice powders and the green chillies. Like I mentioned earlier, I have left the seeds on, for extra spice, as I haven't added any chilli powder to this dish. Add a small amount of water and let the masala get a nice colour to it. Now add in the beans and about 3 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker. Turn the heat on to the highest setting and when it whistles, lower and time for 20 mins. (You might have to play around with the timings of this, as I have found that the quality of beans differs in each country and in some places you need lesser cooking time than others)
Once the timer is finished, take the cooker off the heat. Pressure cookers are dangerous and need to be handled with care so this is what I usually do when I need to open it; to release the steam you need to lift off the counterweight gradually and bleed off the steam, I usually do this by levering the weight with a fork and adjusting it to let out the steam gently or just run the sides of the cooker under water until it has suffficiently cooled down to reduce the pressure in the cooker.

Do NOT attempt to open the cooker without letting off the steam as this could result in some serious steam burns.
If you find that the gravy is too much, you can dry it up by putting it back on the gas without the cover this time, till you achieve the result you want. Add in the barbecue sauce at this point. Give it a few more minutes and then turn the heat off. Now add in the chopped onion and tomato. Don't cook it any further at this point. I like having the onion and tomato raw and added in the end, as it gives the dish a slight crunch and a nice contrast in texture to the soft beans.

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