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Butter beans/ Double beans/ Lima beans- Indian style



I have always loved butter beans or double beans as they are generally known here. There are no common names for this pulse besides borboti (Beng) and sem(Hindi), which are generic names for beans and this is because the bean was introduced into India either via the Far East (Burma beans/Java beans) or Africa ( Madagascar beans) from its place of origin ie. from Central and South America
Cultivars of the Phaseolus lunatus L. grow well here, even though they are not indigenous. The most common ones sold are the double white variety, the brown variety called Sultani and the speckled variety. Both the bush and pole type grow here and flourish at heights of 1200M-2200 M. Like the Madagascar bean they are larger than the Lima bean which belongs to the same family.
All types of lima or butter beans should be soaked well before cooking, at least 12 hours, and then washed well after soaking.They must also be cooked well. At least two hours if cooking from the dry state. Wild lima beans can be poisonous because of their high cyanogens which can be reduced only through soaking and cooking for a long time at fairly high temperatures.They should not be eaten raw neither sprouted.
Double beans can lead to a lot of hot air as that folk song from the American South "Butter Beans " proves..and in these days of global warming .... well I won't elaborate. Most Indian cooking calls for the use of ginger when cooking lentils and legumes. And I have done the same with this lima bean recipe.

150 gms butter beans/ double beans
2 "ginger sliced into circles
1/2 tsp turmeric/ haldi
1 walnut sized piece os tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup hot water and then strained

1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp rai / mustard seed
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1 sprig of kari patta /curry leaves
Pinch of salt

Wash and soak the beans for at least 12 hours. If you live in a cold place soak it in hot water. Wash well after soaking and drain off all the water. Add two cups of fresh water to the beans, sliced ginger and the turmeric and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles at high pressure. Take the cooker off the fire and let the heat reduce. Remove the weight.Fish out the ginger slices and discard. Now mash a few of the beans on the sides of the pan or in a blender to make the gravy a bit thicker. Add the tamarind pulp and continue to simmer on low heat.

Heat a teaspoon of oil and add the mustard seed. When they pop add the chopped garlic and fry till golden brown. Now add the curry leaves and saute for ten seconds. Pour the seasoning over the beans and let it cook together for 5-8 minutes. Add salt to taste.