This is my most recent bow in the direction of my beloved Indian cuisine: tender black soy beans in a creamy golden sauce redolent of cardamom.
I am decidedly not a fan of cardamom in most sweets, but I simply adore it in savory Indian dishes. When I was creating this recipe, I started with a mere teaspoon of it, but ended up adding a full tablespoon. Bear in mind, though, that the potency of spices is largely dependent on their freshness. I am fairly sure my cardamom was quite fresh but, just in case, I would suggest that you start with less and add more, up to the amount called for, according to your preference.
The creaminess of this addicting sauce is due, in large part, to coconut milk. One of my foodie friends scoffs at lite coconut milk, noting that it is simply diluted coconut milk and that, while it has less calories, it has less flavor, at least according to her. I, on the other hand, feel that regular coconut milk is a bit too much of a good thing and actually favor the lite. But use whichever you prefer. The cashews aren’t absolutely necessary in the sauce. If you don’t have any on hand, no need to purchase. However, they do add a certain something to the sauce.
You could use other beans or lentils in this dish, but I like the color-contrast of the golden sauce, thanks to aromatic turmeric, and the black soy beans which are a nice source of protein at 11 grams per serving.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small-medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon very finely diced mild, medium or hot chilies
1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground cardamom (start with about a teaspoon, if you choose, and add more to taste)
1-15.5 ounce can cooked black soy beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup raw cashew halves and pieces (roasted and lightly salted cashews are also fine), processed until almost a powder
1-15 ounce can coconut milk
Garnish: sprigs of fresh cilantro and cashew halves
Accompaniment: cooked Basmati rice and, if desired, cooked poppadoms
In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil to shimmering over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until softened and some golden color starts to develop. Add garlic, chilies, and ginger, and saute stirring, for a minute or two or until ingredients are softened, but garlic is not browned. Add spices and saute, continuing to stir, for about 30 seconds. Stir in soy beans and tomatoes and heat through. Add cashew powder and coconut milk, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes to combine flavors. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent mixture from sticking. Serve hot over cooked Basmati rice. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and cashew halves, and serve crispy poppadoms on the side (I microwave 4 at a time for about a minute). Alternatively, ladle the soy beans and sauce into bowls and top with a scoop of rice before garnishing as desired.