Adzuki Bean Curry with Baby Spinach

As autumn makes its blustery entrance in a whirlwind of cool air and fallen leaves, the time is ripe to put my beautiful cast iron pot to good use. Adzuki beans are perhaps best known as the main ingredient in sweet red bean paste – widely used  in Chinese and Japanese sweets and desserts – but like most legumes, these tasty little red beans can also be used to make a hearty, Indian curry. If you have the time, make it in the afternoon, or even the evening before, to allow all those different flavours to get to know each other a little better. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with fluffy basmati rice, cucumber raita, chutney and (mini) poppadums.


Ingredients (for 2):

1 can of cooked adzuki beans, drained and rinsed

2 large onions, chopped

1 tsp black mustard seeds

3 dried bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped or ground in a pestle and mortar

1/2 cinnamon stick

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

a 2cm piece of fresh ginger root, grated

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely ground in a pestle and mortar

1 tsp garam masala

200 ml tomato passata

salt and pepper

100 g  baby spinach

lemon wedges


  • Slowly heat some oil in a large cast iron pan on a low heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds.
  • When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the dried chillies and the cinnamon stick, fry for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion and fry on low heat for at least half an hour, but preferably even longer (45-60 min) until completely soft, golden brown and sticky. Stir regularly, but not too much: allow the sugars in those onions to caramelise on the bottom of the pan.


  • Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt en black pepper and fry for a few minutes.
  • Add the adzuki beans and the tomato passata. Add the garam masala and simmer for 10-15 minutes, adjusting the consistency by adding a little more hot water if it gets too dry.
  • Taste for salt and finally add the baby spinach. Stir through until just wilted and serve.


18 thoughts on “Adzuki Bean Curry with Baby Spinach

  1. Hi Eli ! I am not so fond of beans, but your recipe looks so stunningly delicious that I wonder whether lentils could make (or not) a good replacement ? Any thoughts on that ? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sophie! I think you could definitely try and substitute the beans with lentils, but you do need them to have a bit of bite. Red lentils will become too mushy and turn it into a dal, which is really quite different, but maybe black lentils could work? (Those do need to soak and cook for a long time, though). I wouldn’t really recommend puy or other green lentils for this as you do need that kind of creamy sweetness that comes from the adzuki beans.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow that’s a complete answer, thank you Eli for all the tips, advice and recommendations – I was not expecting less from you, you’re always so kind, and your answers always are very accurate, which I do appreciate a lot 🙂 Have a great day !

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I just bookmarked the recipe and can’t wait to preapre it myself, the flavours must be to the point and I’m sure this dish is a showstopper, just as I will serve it for my friends 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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