Usal is a delicious nutrient packed lima beans curry from the Konkani region of Western India.
About the recipe
I can honestly say I had never tasted usal until my friend Basanthi dropped off a container for us to try. The dish was creamy, spicy, sweet and delicious. The lima beans were tender and gently floating in a delicious spiced tomato gravy.
My daughter Rani especially loved it so much that she bugged me for days to get the recipe so I could make it for her again. I finally got the recipe and made it myself and I am happy to report that it tasted as delicious as Basanthi’s 😊.
About the dried lima beans
I made this dish with dried white lima beans that I had picked up from the Indian store. I soaked the beans overnight to make the dish the next day.
The cool thing about this recipe is that the exact same recipe can be used to make other types of legume such as mung beans, chick peas, dried green peas, kidney beans, navy beans, and Great Northern beans.
Health benefits of legumes
There are so many varieties of legumes and one thing is common among all of them – they are good for you. Legumes are loaded with health benefits.
They’re very low in fat, have no cholesterol and have the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk. They also have powerful antioxidants called polyphenols and are a resistant starch which helps keep our blood sugar low and guards against type 2 diabetes. Legumes can also lower the risk of heart disease. source: webmd
How to make usal
The only planning ahead is soaking the beans the night before. When using dried beans they need to be soaked overnight for the best creamy beans when cooked.
The next day use a pressure cooker or instapot to cook the dried beans until tender. Second step is to make the spicy gravy. Basically fry up some garlic and tomatoes with spices until you get a thick tomato base. Then add the tender legumes and stir together.
Here is a recipe for a healthy, nutrient packed lima bean curry called usal courtesy of my friend Basanthi.
USAL. LIMA BEANS IN CURRY GRAVY
recipe contributed by Basanthi
- 4 Cups Cooked Whole or sprouted Grain. I used dried white lima beans. Soak 2 cups lima beans in 4 cups water overnight. The next day drain the water and cook in the instapot or pressure cooker until beans are tender, about 20 minutes.
- 5 cloves garlic
- 4 inch piece of ginger finely grated
- 3-4 Green Chillies (seeds removed to keep it mild)
- 2 tomatoes finely chopped
- 6-8 Curry leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp Hing powder also known as asafetida
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Chili powder to taste
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- For garnish: coconut grated & cilantro finely chopped
Prepare the ginger, garlic, chili paste. Combine these three in a mini food processor to make a fine paste.
Prepare the seasoning oil: Heat 2 tbsp oil until warm, Add the mustard seeds. When mustard seeds crackle, add the garlic/ginger/green chillies paste and saute until light brown. Then add the tomatoes and cook until tender.
Add the lima beans : Next add all the spices and the cooked lima beans. Add 1 cup water, salt to taste and brown sugar.
Mix well on medium-high heat and once it heats up & gravy starts to boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan with the lid and steam-cook until for about 5-7 minutes to allow the spices to get absorbed into the legumes.
Make sure that the Usal always has some gravy. Add extra water if the gravy has evaporated. After 7 minutes turn the stove off.
Add lemon juice and stir in. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Garnish with shredded coconut and cilantro. Serve usal with chapati, naan or with rice.