I feel like I need to start this post with a confession. I regularly use canned beans. There, I said it. Every time I crack into one of those cans, I can hear the voice of Mark Bittman in my head telling me my beans just don’t taste as good as they could. (Yes, I hear Mark Bittman in my head. Don’t we all?) The main reason I use canned beans is because I’m intimidated by those bags of dry beans. I know, I know, dried beans are easy to make allegedly. See, I’m totally skeptical. But I think that has finally changed!
Babble’s Director of Operations, Jack Murnighan, has created a fantastic video series called “Dollar Meals.” In the videos, Jack shares healthy, delicious food that is also very budget friendly. That’s the best kind of food in my book!
But my most favorite part of Jack’s videos is a tip he offers for cooking dried beans, a tip that has finally made it so I am not scared to cook beans. Jack has broken through my bean barrier and taken all of the mystery out of preparing beans. It’s nothing short of a miracle! And guess what he uses to cook the beans? A slow cooker. How have I never thought of this before? A slow cooker is so much less stressful to me than cooking dried beans on the stove and hoping I have the right temperature and water level. Now I can just dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away for a few hours without a bean-related care in the world.
Jack’s recipe for Indian-Style Slow Cooker Chickpeas is a snap to prepare and makes for an incredibly healthy and flavorful meal. And, if you don’t have chickpeas or want to mix it up, feel free to use another dried legume such as black beans, white beans, or split yellow or green peas. All of them work just as beautifully!
So, if you’re scared of beans like I am, have no fear! Grab your slow cooker, a pound of dried legumes, and a handful of delicious spices. With just 2 minutes of prep time and a dollar out of your wallet, you can have a fantastic meal for your family!
Indian-Style Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry
Prep Time 2 minutes Cook Time 4 hours
Recipe from Jack Murnighan
Dinner or the main course, at least with only two minutes of preparation? Believe it! And for under a buck? Yes, ma’am!
This is one of my favorite tricks: how to use a simple slow cooker and the easiest recipe imaginable to make almost any type of bean incredibly delicious, super-easy to adapt, and really, really cheap. A lot of people think 50-99 cents for a can of beans is a good price, but if you have a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, you can make them much cheaper and much better — at home.
Basically, almost any kind of bean in any old slow cooker will work with a ratio of one pound of dried beans to one quart of water. Add 2 bay leaves and a tablespoon of salt, and six hours of cooking-time later you’re in business. (This also works for lentils and green or yellow split peas, though the cooking times are much shorter.) What you end up with is a super-flavorful bean by itself, but it’s also a readily adaptable base for chili, tacos, salads, curries, and more.
Here’s an example with a slight variation for incredible curry flavor, but still preppable within two minutes. Once your beans are done in the slow cooker, take out your stopwatch and time how quickly you can assemble this Indian-spiced chickpea dish. While you’re waiting for them to cook, sauté up some kale or another dark leafy green (collards, spinach, watercress, whatever), make a pot of rice, and you’ve got a complete and ultra-healthy meal.
What you’ll need
- 1 lb. dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) ($1.99)
- 1 quart water
- 4 cups dry rice, preferably basmati ($1.60)
- 2 bunches of kale ($1.98)
- 1 bunch cilantro, royal basil or mint (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon each of salt, whole cumin, black caraway, ajwan seed, fennel seed
- 1 anise star (total cost: $.50)
Serves 6 (freezes well). Prices are approximations and assume all purchases are made on-sale, at ethnic or farmers markets, online, or by bulk. Actual costs will vary depending on your locale and assiduousness.
How to make it
- Place chickpeas, water, and all seasoning in slow cooker. Turn on low and cook for 4 hours.
- At four hours, check: if chickpeas are soft but a little al dente, it’s finished; if they need more time, check every hour until they have the desired consistency.
- When the chickpeas are fully cooked, if there is too much residual water, pulse with a hand blender to absorb the liquid.
- Serve over rice, and with sautéed kale either on the side or mixed in.
- Sprinkle with minced fresh herbs (optional).