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Nov 3, 2012 05:47 PM

Beans, Beans, Lentils and Beans-- a la Baez

I am slowly replacing meat in my diet with legumes--kidney beans, white beans, chick peas and the rest. I'd like to hear about superior brands of can products, frozen products, dry products along with any recipes that are favourites. And, if there are such places, where are the hot spots to buy beans etc. I hope to replace meat, especially beef, with legumes up to 6 days a week by around Christmas.

Should help to lose weight and not lose my life--or so I'm told.

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  1. The pre-cooked canned ones are ok if you are in a hurry but I usually prefer to use dried. Some brands are better than others - (particularly chickpeas seem to vary in quality) I just buy the ones from Sainsburys. but you have to experiment.

    Beluga Lentils are good for quick meals - little black ones that are popular in Germany - they only take about 20 mins to cook and you don't need to soak them over night.

    Puy Lentils are also very tasty. very popular in France.

    Continental Europeans seem to eat a lot more beans and lentils than UK and USA so you shoudl be able to find interesting recipes. Although often they are paired with some meat - even if its just for flavouring. Pancetta or Bacon say

    1 Reply
    1. re: echoclerk

      Thanks echoclerk. I'll try to adapt your comments this afternoon. My original post was on the Ontario-Toronto-board and I'm not too sure your brands are available here

    2. Hi Herne:

      Indian cuisine has just about the richest, most detailed, and delicious use of beans and lentils in the world. Try reading the threads on Indian recipes on chow, or elsewhere on the internet.

      Since your goal is weight loss and health, don't go only by the stereotypical dishes that are common in Indian restaurants (e.g. dal makhani) because those are rich party fare not suitable for daily home cooking/eating, though once in a while they are absolutely delicious.

      A good dish that is found in restaurants and easy to make at home when you have the ingredients is chana masala aka chhole. This is made of chickpeas cooked on a richly spiced, but not high fat, gravy of ground onions, ginger, garlic + the appropriate spices (find chana masala spice mix in your local Indian store or online), plus a souring element, e.g. tomatoes or tamarind.

      Refrigerates/stores well, so you can make a bigger batch and save. Serve hot with rice or whole wheat rotis (though often eaten with diet-busting fried bhaturas).

      You can make this with canned chickpeas (make sure you get the kind that are fully soft, not hardish) or start from scratch.

      This is truly one of the most delicious and satisfying dishes on the planet. You will not miss the meat for a minute.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Rasam

        ps: if you google, you will find several chana masala/chhole recipes that make the spice mixes from scratch if you can't find chana masala easily. Though finding the component spices may also be a challenge. But likely you will find a recipe that uses more easily obtainable ingredients.

        1. re: Rasam

          +1 on Indian dishes for legumes. Plus, if you eat the legume w/ a whole wheat chapati (or naan or poori or roti, etc), you'll get a complete protein, so your body won't miss the meat nutrients. I was vegetarian for over 20 years and never missed meat (except on Thanksgiving!).

          If you decide to use canned beans (a distant 2nd choice, IMHO), be sure to rinse them well to get rid of the excess salt.

          1. re: pine time

            +1 on what Pine Time says for beans, which are really at their best in Indian cuisine. Besides, the variety of beans in Indian food is truly amazing.

      2. Rancho Gordo beans are absolutely the best, freshest and tastiest dry beans I have ever found!
        Beans and greens are a good and easy way to enjoy beans - can be customized to any cuisine - mexican, italian indian etc. depending on spices and extras you add. I also love black beans and corn mixed together - but I do have a third of my freezer filled with organic corn from the summer. I just do not trust corn from any source that I do not know anymore.

        1. OK: I am also going to recommend Dal Makhani (=Butter Dal) aka kali dal (=black dal). The actual dal (=bean/legume) is a little exotic, it is the whole small black beans (called Sabut Urad) available in Indian stores or online. But the spices are more every day for Western kitchens.

          This dal has been described in glowing, over-the-top terms, as the queen of dal dishes. I really wonder which genius invented it. It is cooked with a good amount of butter and cream, and is very creamy, rich, delicious, and you can't stop yourself from finishing the whole batch. IMHO it is one of the top ten recipes of all time on the planet. There is a reason it shows up on just about every Indian resto menu. It is a party dish, but no reason not to make it at home, especially during the cold winter months and have a party-of-one.

          There are many recipes out there but I have always liked Julie Sahni's recipe from her Classic Indian Cooking book (one of her first cookbooks). Here is someone who has posted that with pictures and step by steps:

          In my experience, I have cut the recommended amount of butter in half (down to half a stick) and never missed it. And also recall that though the amount of butter and cream seems like a lot, it is spread out among several servings, so each time you don't get a whole lot.

          Again, serve with hot rice, or naan, roti, or other flatbread, and simple green veggie or cauli dish and raita on the side.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Rasam

            Thank you Rasam for all your time, effort and information. I have a large Indian supermarket nearby in Toronto and I'll get there Wednesday or Thursday am.
            I'll be the guy born in Oshawa 70 years ago looking lost with a piece of paper with chanal masala written on it.

            I'll probably start with the minimum preparations and ingredients and won't get the right taste for at least 2 attempts

            1. re: Herne

              You're welcome, and good luck. Chana masala is easy to find. There should be an aisle with all the boxed spice mixes, otherwise the store clerk should help you.
              If you have a choice of brands, Shan and MDH are good chana masala spice mix brands.

              Get a bag of sabut urad, aka kali dal, while you are there, and make the dal makhani another day.

              1. re: Herne

                Well I did it. Found the MTR spice mix and followed the package instructions. I believe I came close to getting it right first time. The house smelled of my attempt for about 5-6 days despite the exhaust fan.

            2. I'm a huge fan of dried beans versus canned. Much cheaper and you can control additives and choose supplier; downside is can require a bit of planning unless you make a large batch and freeze in meal-size portions (recommended!). That said, I do keep a couple of cans of chickpeas, black beans, and black-eyed peas for emergencies.

              Rancho Gordo does have lovely beans; there's a phone # on the website for ?? about ordering from Canada. I know the tariffs are ridiculous in general.

              My beans go into the crockpot and require very little attention. I rinse then cook, and add salt and spices after cooking depending on recipe. A pot of beans can go several different ways so I keep the cooked unseasoned beans in fridge and use as desired.

              A couple of favorite recipes (not mine, but similar):
              Chickpea salad w/cucumber, tomato, cilantro, vinaigrette
              (you probably have a hummus recipe already and it's always nice to have chickpeas around for some spontaneous dip


              Black beans w/garlic and cilantro

              White bean chili