Pinto beans masala – A healthy start for 2012

How many of you watch Dr.Oz’s show? I am his huge fan, I am all ears to him. I love his smile and he talks about science like we gossip about movies: so simple and easy to understand and follow. I wish I could be his audience in one of his show, that way I hope to meet him in NY sometime. Many of his tips about eating right (apart from the medical reasons behind) was something I am used to follow watching my amma’s and achi’s cooking. Most of the South Indian vegetarian meal ( ofcourse except the deep fried and dessert items), everything else is rich in proteins, good carbs, vitamins and minerals. I have been raised by a mother who is a staunch vegetarian. So the most part of my school year, I am used to eating vegetarian food and in some weekend, my aunt who lived across the street would cook meat/seafood for us and during vacation at my grandparents, I get to eat both veg and non-veg food. I could say I am used to best of both worlds.
I love beans. When coupled with any veggies or rice, it turns into a wholesome meal that is high in protein and absolutely fat free. Legumes are so versatile that you can fix a stew, curry or even a rice dish (briyani or pulao) with it. Amma makes different curry/kootu/ sundals with them.
Pinto beans is known to contain cholesterol lowering fiber and including them in your diet can help to lowering the blood sugar level. Generally when a food is consumed they get broken down to small molecules in your body. It is important to consume food with low glycemic index so that to avoid rapid sugar spike in your body. Pinto beans is one such bean which will prevent the sugar level from rising too fast after consuming a meal. This curry was one of the staple menu I ate when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.They  are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate, vitamin B1, minerals like phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Today I used pinto beans to make a curry that is creamy, full of flavor and uber tasty. This curry can be made in advance and stored in refrigerator for 2-3 days.I started my new year with pinto beans masala for lunch.
Source: Amma
  • 1 cup raw pinto beans (soaked in water overnight)
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 1 large tomatoe – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger – minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder – store bought
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. Take a medium sized pressure cooker. Heat oil until they smoke a bit. Throw in the onions and little salt and let it brown, approximately 15 minutes on a medium flame.
  2. Add the minced ginger and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle curry powder and cook till the raw smell disappears. Mix in the tomatoes and cook till they turn mushy, approximately 5 minutes. Finally add the pinto beans and stir to mix well. Pour some water and pressure cook for 4 whistles or cook covered for 45 minutes on medium-low flame.
  3. Once the steam has settled down, remove the whistle and open the cooker. Pour the lemon juice over and garnish with garam masala and cilantro. Stir to combine and serve hot with rice/ roti.
1. Since pinto beans have low glycemic index, I make them while following South beach diet phase 1 and 2 (ofcourse in phase 3 too).
2. I had mine with cold cucumbers and finished off the lunch with a cup of fat-free yogurt and roasted nuts drizzled with agave nectar. A wholesome meal for sure.

For the roasted nuts and yogurt dessert:
  • 1/4 cup almonds – roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts – roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar ( + more) as per your taste
  1. Mix the nuts with oil. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Spread the nuts over a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove mix the nuts well and toss them back to the oven and let it roast for another 10 minutes. Keep an eye not to burn. Sprinkle salt. Cool and store in air tight container.
Place a scoop of 1 cup yogurt in a dessert bowl. Throw in some nuts (2 tablespoon) and drizzle the agave nectar on top. Serve cold.

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  1. Anonymous 8 years ago

    Can you use canned pinto beans? If yes, how should you alter the recipe? Thanks!

  2. @anonymous: Since its 1 cup soaked and cooked, you can directly use 1cup of cooked beans from the can. Just rinse it well with water and use. Hope this helps.Thanks!

  3. ANONYMOUS 8 years ago

    I’m a little confused. The ingredients say raw beans but soaked and pressure cooked. Are you adding in raw beans or are they precooked? How long do you soak them for?

    • Hello there,
      Thank you for your comment. That was a good catch. I used raw pinto beans, soaked it in water overnight and followed the cooking directions I had mentioned in the post. I have made the changes in the post. Thank you for bringing it up.

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