Food & Wine (December 2010)
We're always a little dubious when the ingredients list for a recipe like these Masala Baked Beans calls for two cans of baked beans.
Yeah, okay, maybe we have a knee-jerk aversion to anything that seems a little too semi-homemade. But also, we're just always a little skeptical about how much you can actually do to a dish when you start with 32 ounces of baked beans straight from the can. How much flavor can you really develop?
Still, we liked the notion of these Almost-Instant Masala Baked Beans. The Indian Spiced Turkey Meatloaf with Spicy Indian Ketchup we made before the holidays had us jonesing for more classic American dishes with an Indian twist.
So we shoved our skepticism to the side and reached for a can-opener.
Anyway, back to these beans. We sauteed everything as the recipe says, and then simmered it in the beans for the recommended four minutes.
What'd it taste like? Canned baked beans.
So we doubled all the spices and simmered a little longer.
The result? Better, but they still tasted very much like canned baked beans, with a tiny hint of Indian spice. They were delicious baked beans, but the Indian spices got completely subsumed.
Maybe if you simmered everything for a half hour, or an hour, there would be more flavor.
Or maybe the dish needs more spice. As written, it calls for 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. That's very little spiciness to stand up to 32 ounces of baked beans.
Or maybe the problem is in the selection of beans. We purchased Bush's Best Vegetarian Baked Beans, which, though they don't contain any high-fructose corn syrup, are pretty sweet. Maybe if you could somehow find canned baked beans that weren't overly sweet, the Indian flavors would shine.
That's a lot of maybes, but this recipe was by no means a bust. We still ended up with a tasty side dish.
But you can get pretty much the same result we did with a lot less effort: open a can of beans, grab a fork, close your eyes and think of India.
- TOTAL TIME: 20 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4 TO 6
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- Two 16-ounce cans vegetarian baked beans
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the cumin and coriander and cook over moderately high heat just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and jalapeño and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the beans and simmer over moderately low heat until heated through and bubbling, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.
The beans can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm before serving.