What to do with adzuki beans

I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist who is helping me adjust my system.  She’s working on my kidneys and suggested a number of food that would help, one of them being adzuki beans.  Because most people (me included) don’t know what to do with them she gave me a recipe – and its really good: pumpkin and adzuki beans in a thai-style curry. Unlike kidney beans, adzuki beans (also called aduki or azuki beans) are small, reddish-brown beans with a cream coloured seam and sweet, nutty flavour.  They originated in China and in Japan are regarded as the king of beans due to their health-giving properties:  benefitting the liver and the kidneys. In both Japan and China, adzuki beans are often puréed and mixed with sugar to make a paste to use in cakes and desserts.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, adzukis are said to support kidney, bladder and reproductive function. They’re also low in calories and fat and easy to digest 🙂

The beauty of this dish is that’s its really easy to prepare – no need to grind/blend ingredients to make a curry paste, just use a few dry spices and some tamarind.  It makes a lot so you can have leftovers.  In fact, I used this as something of a ‘master curry’ and kept adding to it – extra coconut milk, fish sauce, extra pumpkin, then more beans and one time:some pork- so much so that we ate it – with variations – for 4 days!  Now that’s one good curry.

Adzuki beans are available dried in Asian shops or good health food shops.

Pumpkin adzuki curry with coconut, lime & ginger

If you’re using uncooked adzuki beans, soak them for between one and four hours, rinse them thoroughly and cook for 45 minutes before adding to the curry.
1 medium brown onion
splash olive oil or 1 tbsp ghee
3cm knob ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
2 hot chillies, finely chopped (I find this very mild so if you want to turn up the heat, add more chillies)
1tsp ground turmeric
1.5tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp tamarind puree
half a small to medium-sized pumpkin, cut into large 4-5cm pieces (leave the skin on)
1 cup Adzuki beans
400ml coconut milk
400g tin whole tomatoes, chopped
8 kaffir lime leaves, 4 of these finely shredded
juice of 1 lime
splash fish sauce
 To serve: lime wedges, chopped coriander, mint and/or Thai basil

Heat oil or ghee in a large heavy based pot over low-medium heat. Add onion and cook for five minutes, then add ginger and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes (or add them whole and roughly break them up in the pot) and tamarind puree. Cook for five minutes, then add the coconut milk and whole kaffir lime leaves. Return to boil then reduce to low simmer.

Add the pumpkin pieces and cook for about 8 minutes, checking on the pumpkin – you don’t want it to turn to mush. Add the adzuki beans about two minutes before you think the pumpkin is just cooked. Sit the lime juice and shredded kaffir lime leaves and a good splash of fish sauce before serving.
Serves 4

If anyone has any other interesting recipes for adzuki beans, do let me know.