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Joanne's Aduki Bean & Coconut Curry

gluten free
wheat free
cheap as chickpeas
2 spoon difficulty rating

40 minutes

Serves: 4

Joanne's Aduki Bean & Coconut Curry

This lovely dish was made for me by a dear friend who adapted it from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. It was so good that I couldn't wait to try it when I got home!  My old friend is not only a passionate vegan and excellent cook but a dedicated friend to animals, having rescued and rehomed many dogs.  


Like many Indian recipes, it looks ingredient heavy. But it's pretty easy! So get all the ingredients and equipment out and just go for it - the spices etc can be prepped and cooked while the adukis are cooking. 

Serving tips

  • It's nice served with rice and/or chappatis. Brown rice sprinkled with toasted cumin seeds is particularly nice.
  • Plain vegan yoghurt - made from soya or coconut milk - is also good and Sojade and CoYo are excellent examples of each type.
  • Spinach or kale on the side would also be good.

Top tips

  1. What not to add to beans during the cooking process.
    Although the original recipe calls for the sugar to be added to the beans from the start, I found that it made the beans take far too long to cook.  A bit of research suggested that several ingredients tend to make the skins of beans very tough and delay their cooking: salt, tomatoes – and sugar! So best to add such things nearer the end rather than the beginning.
  2. Sugar or...?
    I used 1 tbsp each of medium brown sugar and molasses as I didn't have any dark brown sugar left! Molasses on its own would also work well and is healthier than sugar, as are barley malt syrup or date syrup. So get creative... 


Stage 1: Adukis

  • 200g aduki beans, rinsed and soaked overnight in 1.5 litres of water in a 20cm pan OR 2 tins adukis
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar/molasses or 1 tbsp of each

Stage 2

  • 5 tbsp plain vegetable oil (not olive)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds, brown or black
  • 1 dried chilli

Stage 3

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced in half
  • 1 heaped tsp cinnamon powder
  • 4 tsp root ginger, peeled with a teaspoon (makes the peeling very simple and quick!) and finely grated
  • 2 green or red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced OR ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed

Stage 4

  • 125g passata OR tinned chopped tomatoes (a half measuring cup is an easy way to do it)
  • 15g/2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • ½ tin coconut milk OR 6 tbsp grated fresh coconut OR 6 tbsp grated frozen coconut, defrosted. If using tinned coconut milk, whisk it all up first so it has an even consistency
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice


  • Measuring jug
  • 20cm saucepan or similar, with lid
  • Pressure cooker - if you're doing the pressured beans!
  • Colander
  • Glass or ceramic bowl for cooked beans
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small containers for measuring out spices etc
  • Tin opener
  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • Garlic crusher (or just crush with the blade of your knife and chop roughly)
  • Metal teaspoon (for peeling ginger)
  • Grater
  • Citrus squeezer
  • Wooden or silicone spoon for stirring


1. Beans cooked from scratch method. Set the pan you have been soaking the beans in over a high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and cook for 90 minutes-2 hours, or until the beans are very soft and broken up. When they are fully cooked, add the sugar/molasses and stir until it has dissolved. Pour the water and beans into a large bowl (not plastic) and set aside.  You can also pressure cook aduki beans: unsoaked take 15-20 minutes, soaked take only 5-9 minutes.

2. Tinned bean method. Rinse and drain the beans, place in a saucepan and add 1 cup (240-250ml) water. Heat up the contents and add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved. Transfer the beans to another container (not plastic).

3. Meanwhile, measure and prepare all the other ingredients if you haven’t already done so. Clean the pan and place it over a medium heat. Pour in the oil. Check it is hot by dropping in a few of the mustard seeds; they should sizzle and pop immediately.

4. Working quickly, add the whole dried chilli and remaining mustard seeds and let them pop for a few seconds.Add the one clove of sliced garlic, swirl the pan and then add, all at the same time, the ginger, fresh chillies/chilli flakes, ground coriander and cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, a teaspoon of salt and the garam masala. Stir to prevent sticking. This process should take about 1 minute. Add a splash of water if it is sticking.

5. Stir for a further minute, then add the onion and the finely chopped garlic. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir and fry for two minutes, or until the onions are soft. Add a splash of water or two if it starts to stick before the onions are cooked.

6. Add the passata/chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring, for three minutes.

7. Add the beans and some of the cooking liquid to the pan (reserving the rest of the liquid). Bring the beans and cooked spice/onion mixture to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10–15 minutes. Add more of the cooking water if the consistency gets too thick.

8. Add the chopped coriander, coconut and lemon juice. Give the dish one final stir, then serve.

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