Red Kidney Beans Curry (Bhanda)

As I was growing up most of our Sunday meals was having “bhanda and bhat” – Kidney beans curry and rice (In Malawi, Bhanda is the chichewa word for kidney beans). This would sometimes be accompanied with fresh white bread or thepla (a spicy chapatti/roti). The most comforting of meals and satisfyingly filling. There are many nutritional benefits to these beans, they are excellent in folic acid, iron, protein, thiamine, potassium and B vitamin to name but a few.  It is the traditional  staple food of the people of Malawi, they would have it with a cornmeal mash and not so spicy beans, to make a complete meal. This is one of the few foods that I miss if I do not have it over a long period of time. It is also eaten in Northern India where it is know as Rajma, not to mention it is used in Mexican and Cajun food also.

Red Kidney Beans Curry (Bhanda)

I now tend to use tinned kidney beans you can get from supermarket, rather then the dry beans, just to save the hassle and time of soaking and cooking the beans. You can get special spice mixes to make the curry but It does not matter if you do not have the spice mix for this curry, any other good garam masala works just as well. If you do not use fresh ginger and garlic you can use the shop bought paste also, I would say about a teaspoon each should be good.


Preparation time: 10 mins                  Cooking time: 20 mins                  Serves: 4

5 tins of kidney beans (240 g each drained weight)

1 large onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic crushed or grated

1/2 inch piece of ginger grated

1 tbsp sunflower oil

a few curry leaves

1 dry red chilli

1/4 tsp each of mustard seeds (rai) & cumin seeds (jeeru)

1/8 tsp asoefatida (hing)

1 tsp each chilli and turmeric powder (hurdur)

1 tsp salt and cumin & coriander powder (dhana jeeru)

1 tbsp roasted cumin (jeeru) powder

1 tin (240 g) tomato pulp (I use a peeled plum tomatoes from a tin)

2 cups water

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp rajma masala or garam masala

2 tbsp chopped coriander


1) In a large heavy based pan on a medium heat heat the oil, once it is heated after a few seconds add the mustard seeds (rai) & cumin seeds (jeeru), asoefatida (hing) and curry leaves and the dry red chilli. Once they start popping add the chopped onions and once they are cooked and slightly softened add the ginger and garlic. Let it sauté for a few minutes.

2) Rinse the beans in hot water and add to the pan along with all of the remaining ingredients, and let it cook for about ten minutes. Check for taste and add the roasted ground cumin.

3) If you are using this curry for the sizzler then make sure to keep the gravy quite runny, if not keep on boiling until it thickens up. This curry is good served with fresh white bread, naan bread and also thepla (spicy Indian roti).

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