I'm desperate for kidney bean curry
January 5, 2009 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I have a recipe for kidney beans which calls for a pressure cooker. How can I modify it to be made without one?

The recipe is from an Indian cookbook, and in the introduction the author says that many recipes call for a pressure cooker 'in order to make traditionally slow-cooked dishes in less time,' so I assume this can be done without one. I'm just not sure exactly how.

The relevant part of the recipe:

"Soak the kidney beans overnight in water to cover by 2 inches. Then drain and place them in a pressure cooker, along with the cardamom pods, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, and 4 cups water. Secure the lid of the pressure cooker, place over high heat, and cook until the gauge indicates high pressure, then cook about 1 minute more. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook another 3 minutes. Then remove from the heat and allow pot to depressurize on its own, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully open the lid and check to see if the beans are very soft, with some of them broken; if not, cover, bring up to pressure again, and cook under pressure another minute. Or cover and boil until soft, about 1/2 hour."
posted by showbiz_liz to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think the last sentence is all you need. Boil the soaked beans in a covered pot until they are soft.
posted by Science! at 3:09 PM on January 5, 2009


Yeah, just cook 'em 'til they're soft. Be sure to soak and drain them, but don't overthink them.
posted by trip and a half at 3:13 PM on January 5, 2009


I thought that meant, "open the lid to check, and then EITHER cook one more minute OR boil 1/2 hour"?

If not, why would it take almost as long boiling in the normal way as in a pressure cooker?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:14 PM on January 5, 2009


It only takes a few minutes in the pressure cooker, you have to wait for it to cool down for 20 minutes though. You can speed that process by running cold water over the cooker.
posted by Science! at 3:19 PM on January 5, 2009


I think the last sentence is all you need.

Well, not quite. For one thing, you don't want to add the salt at the beginning of the cooking time, or the beans will toughen and never really get tender no matter how long you cook them.

What you probably want to do is something like this:

Soak beans overnight. [full disclosure-- i never soak my beans before cooking them, but many people do).

Drain and put in large pot on stovetop with water to cover by a couple of inches, cardamom pods, cinnamon, and turmeric.

Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for a couple of hours (will vary greatly depending on the age of the beans) until soft, adding water if necessary.

Stir in salt, then simmer uncovered for another 15- 30 minutes.
posted by dersins at 3:21 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, I'm wrong there. The recipe is using the retained heat to finish the cooking. So you can do other things on the burner while the cooker cools?
posted by Science! at 3:21 PM on January 5, 2009


after the second sentence, the recipe should read "cover and boil until soft, about 2 hours." That's all.
posted by Jon_Evil at 3:24 PM on January 5, 2009


Maybe I am Doing It Wrong, but every single recipe I've ever seen that calls for dried beans claims that they can be soaked for 6-10 hours, then cooked for "1/2 hour" and be done. I've never, ever, been able to get dried beans edible in less than 1 hour of cooking (it's more like 2-3 hours, as per dersins). I've never used a pressure cooker but if it actually makes beans done in 1/2 hour, that would be awesome.
posted by holyrood at 3:30 PM on January 5, 2009


Best way to cook all sorts of beans evenly is in a cast iron pan with water to cover the beans, the pan covered with heavy lid, inside the oven at c. 110 C (230 F). Times vary drastically depending on the kind of bean. Could be a few hours or half a day (or longer - think chickpeas).

OP is right, the quoted half hour is about finishing the pressure-cooked beans on the stove. Half an hour would never be enough otherwise.

There's a lot of Grandmother Woo woo going on regarding when to add salt. I add salt at about 2/3 of the total cooking time.
posted by Namlit at 3:32 PM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Easiest way to make this recipe without a pressure cooker? Use canned beans!
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:51 PM on January 5, 2009


Well, we cook a lot of pinto beans down here in Texas which are really similar to kidney beans and if we remember to do it, then we soak them overnight first. Either way, rinse them off to make sure there's not any dirt clods in there, put them in plenty of water and start 'em cooking. Usually takes about 5-6 hours at least. Pay attention because they can boil dry pretty easily.

One little trick I do with all dried beans is that when they first start to "turn" or go soft, I drain off the water and fill the pot back up with fresh water. This is supposed to reduce the uh, unfortunate side effects of eating beans. Can't say if it works or not, I've always done it this way. I've read that you can also add a teaspoon or so of baking soda to get rid of the gas but I've never tried that trick.

I don't add any flavoring until almost the very end, mainly cause I'm lazy, but they turn out pretty darn good.
posted by tamitang at 4:38 PM on January 5, 2009


@Tamitang: I've been told to skim off the froth/foam on top of the water while they boil to reduce the gassiness of beans and chickpeas and the like...or skim off the froth/foam that collects when they've been soaking. Probably has the same effect as changing the water.
posted by robotot at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2009


You really can add the salt early on; it's acidic ingredients that prevent your beans from getting soft. Baking soda, being a base, will make them get extra soft -- so a pinch is good if your water runs toward the acidic for some reason, likely to result in mush otherwise.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2009


I don't know this for a fact, but I've read that the soaking and rinsing also has the effect of lowering phytohemagglutinin levels in kidney beans.
posted by holloway at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2009


I am from the part of the country where everyone (well, almost) is CRAZY about kidney beans and my mom taught me how to make it- if that helps. But I use a cooker (more on that in a bit).

Soak 'em overnight covered in water just as in the recipe with a bit of salt added in. Put all the stuff in the cooker on high heat till it builds up pressure. Once it does that, switch to low heat for at least 30-40min (20min is unbelievable to me). Once you switch off heat, the steam is still built up in it (and hence you cannot open it) and that steam is still cooking the beans. If you skip the soaking part, you will need to extend that 30-40 min time. Some varieties don't even cook in an hour if you skip soaking (which is terribly annoying- I mean, geez, its a cooker!). And, the exact procedure works for chickpeas.

So if you skip the cooker, its going to take a lot longer. I never attempted without one (and I don't know which variety of beans you are using) so unfortunately I can't tell you exactly how long it will take. But I wouldn't be surprised if it takes two hours or more. One thing you can do is get the canned beans (they are already cooked and hence soft). In this case, skip the soaking (unless you want a bean soup) and go directly to the next part. For the next part, I would take a bit of oil in a saucepan (about one tablespoon), put all the spices in, cook them for a bit (a few min- you can tell from the aroma) then add the canned beans. Add more water if you want more gravy, cover and keep on low/medium heat. Do stir it once in a while to make sure the beans are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook till its done (about 10-20 min). If you are using the canned beans the first time you try, you will at least get the recipe right.

Hope this helps! Happy cooking.
posted by xm at 7:17 PM on January 5, 2009


All the pressure cooker does is speed up the cooking process. as it says at the start of the recipe?!

if you don't have a pressure cooker just use a normal pot on a stove top burner, but it will take twice / threee times as long to cook but turn out much the same.
posted by mary8nne at 2:06 AM on January 6, 2009


I soak a cup of kidney beans (or any other kind of bean) overnight, drain them, cover them by maybe 5mm with fresh water in a stainless steel pot (with a lid that fits properly), and add a teaspoon of salt and a bay leaf. Using an element that exactly matches the pot's base, I bring the pot to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, I turn the element right off, then leave the pot on its own on the element to do its thing, no peeking. By the time the sides of the pot are cool a few hours later, the beans are cooked. From here I can use them like canned beans. My stainless steel pot does seem to have quite a thick base, which I assume helps with this retained heat method.
posted by Pigpen at 2:51 AM on January 6, 2009


*pulls up chair and sits down*

Okay, addressing a couple different points in here.

"I have a recipe for kidney beans which calls for a pressure cooker. How can I modify it to be made without one?"

Simply with boiling and then simmering. You'll need to soak the beans first, but in the original recipe, take all the ingredients you were supposed to put into a pressure cooker, and then just dump them into a pan, bring to a boil, and then simmer everything until the beans are soft. The only difference is that a pressure cooker cuts down on cooking time.

"Maybe I am Doing It Wrong, but every single recipe I've ever seen that calls for dried beans claims that they can be soaked for 6-10 hours, then cooked for "1/2 hour" and be done. I've never, ever, been able to get dried beans edible in less than 1 hour of cooking (it's more like 2-3 hours, as per dersins)."

The age of your dried beans could be a factor here. Dried beans don't go bad, but the older they are, the longer they take to cook. The kind of bean you're working with may also be a factor. On average, "Fresh" dried beans (i.e., you just got them from the supermarket this week) take about 45 minutes to an hour to cook. If you buy the beans and then let them sit around in your cupboard for a year or two, they could take longer the longer they've been sitting.

And some beans just take longer than an hour as it is. Black beans tend to be more like an hour and a half.

also, one of the reasons for pre-soaking beans before you cook them is also to cut down on cooking time.

"One little trick I do with all dried beans is that when they first start to "turn" or go soft, I drain off the water and fill the pot back up with fresh water. This is supposed to reduce the uh, unfortunate side effects of eating beans. Can't say if it works or not, I've always done it this way."

The best way I've heard to handle the "belly issues" is through using a different pre-soaking method -- instead of just soaking them overnight, instead, try putting them into a saucepan with water to cover, bringing to a boil, and then you boil the hell out of them for a minute or two -- and THEN you take them off the heat and soak them, but only for a couple hours. Then you drain and proceed with the cooking, using fresh water. This CAN affect the texture, I've been told (it can make them easier to get mushy, apparently), but since 99.9% of the time I cook beans up I'm going to be pureeing them, I personally am okay with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:02 AM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


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