Comfort food is something one eats for pleasure. I don’t like sweets (never did) and for me comfort food is usually something spicy. As a Hungarian I do think that sausages make a great meal almost any time thus they are a great comfort food, but sometimes you just want to eat something else.
While I do occasionally watch cooking shows, competitions, and other kind of food porn, when I am down I have never ever wished for a dish cooked by a chef that swears with a British accent.
I normally advocate eating meaty stuff with lots of fat. But today’s topic is a bean curry dish that I have sort of invented a long time ago when I was still living in my university dorm room. I was trying to imitate some bean dish I had in a Middle Eastern restaurant (till this day I do not know what it was). Back then I did not have Internet, so I was just guessing how to get a similar taste.
I am pretty certain that the original wasn’t anything like what I have ended up with. Among other things the original had pieces of beef in it, while I have only used vegetables.
Nevertheless the resulting dish gained some popularity among my peers who usually did show up when I was cooking and I have been making it ever since.
It is basically a curry made from beans and potatoes with some tomato paste in it.
It can be eaten hot, on top of rice or eaten cold spread on a slice of bread, or any way you like. It is nice and spicy without being overly hot.
If one does not insist on cooking it from scratch (which involves soaking dry beans overnight and cooking them for over an hour until they are fully cooked and soft) one can cook it in less than an hour and have a satisfying meal with possibly enough left overs to use as a sandwich spread the next day or two.
These days I tend to use canned beans, the unflavored variety. It is easy to store and ready when you need it.
The most basic ingredients are a medium/large onion, a large potato, a can of beans, some garlic, curry powder, salt and cooking oil (use olive oil if possible) and a can of tomato paste. Other ingredients such as fresh peppers and tomatoes can be added, as well as various spices. Some extra turmeric, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, ground black pepper, chilly powder, parsley, cilantro even cardamom are probably appropriate. Please do not use cinnamon, vanilla or sugar — it is not a cake.
Just cut the onion, potato and other fresh ingredients to roughly the size of the cooked beans. Pour a generous portion of oil into a saucepan and start cooking the onions with some salt in the oil. Add any freshly cut peppers, tomatoes garlic etc. as if you were making a stew. When the onions start to become translucent add the potatoes and the spices. Add some water and cook it until the potatoes are fully cooked (you should be able to mash the little potato cubes with a spoon).
Drain a can of beans, and wash them (just to get rid of any preservatives and whatever else was added to the water in the can). Add the beans to the dish.
Open a can of tomato sauce and add it to the dish (you can use water to rinse the can and pour it in).
Stirring heavily (otherwise the tomato sauce quickly becomes a volcano) try to adjust the taste by adding salt, and if necessary some lemon juice.
Just make sure that the entire dish is thoroughly heated up, you probably can’t keep it boiling too long (again the volcano effect) without some extra effort. But all the ingredients are fully cooked at this point so there is no real need for it anyway.
You can serve it with a side of rice (or some other appropriate side dish such as couscous) and some yoghurt or a yoghurt based cucumber salad.
When cooled down it can be used as a spread on bread, or put some on your favorite sandwich. It is quite delicious.