Pantry Cleanse I: Assorted Legumes

Whoever decided to package several different varieties of beans and lentils in a “Gourmet Bean Blend” is an idiot. A very clever idiot, because people buy this stuff. It’s an appealing idea to make soup from this rainbow legume hodgepodge, however the logistics of actually cooking them all together like this are impossible, or at the very least not ideal. The trouble is that a yellow split pea and and a red bean take vastly different amounts of time to cook, and uncooked legumes do not taste good. The only solution is to cook the largest beans completely, and in so doing cook everything else to death. As we often hear, the lowest common denominator tyrannizes everyone else.

Beans take a long time to cook. This wouldn’t much of an issue, except that legumes are to soup what dirt is to mud--they settle to the bottom. So they have to be unstuck from the bottom every few minutes to keep them from burning. After five hours of walking back and forth between the pot of beans and whatever else I was doing, it was two in the morning and I was sick of it. The beans were not entirely cooked, but they were edible. Sometimes, as in writing this blog entry, one has to stop.

2 cups "Gourmet Bean Blend" 6 medium tomatoes 1 large onion 3 tablespoons cooking oil 2 cloves garlic 2 teaspoons mustard seeds 1 tablespoon coriander powder 1 1/2 tablespoons sambar powder

Soak beans in cold water for 8 hours. Finely chop onion and garlic. Drain water that beans were soaking in, and transfer beans to a large pot. Cover beans in 2 inches of water and begin bringing it to a boil. In a large, covered saucepan on medium heat fry mustard seeds in oil until most of them pop. Add onion and garlic and reduce heat to medium-low. Add coriander and sambar powder. Continue frying until onions are soft, stirring every few minutes. When beans have begun to boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Cut tomatoes into large chunks. When onions are done mix in tomatoes. When tomatoes have disintegrated and reduced to a thick sauce, transfer tomato-onion mixture to bean pot. Cook for however long it takes for all beans to become tender, possibly six hours. Stir often to keep from burning. When done, salt to taste.

1 February 2011