Spicy Bean, Coconut and Cabbage Curry


Flaming June! The time for salads, BBQ’s and picnics on the beach or (insert picnic spot of choice) but suddenly all we want to do it hole up in the house. Close the curtains, put the heating back on and eat something warm and comforting.  Curry is a rather umbrella term we use for spicy dishes that could have come from the Indian sub-continent but most likely were conceived in a kitchen far from there. To make life easier let’ call this a curry then, it’s actually a hot bean, coconut and cabbage dish I borrowed and adapted (you don’t say!) from the fabulous Nigel Slater, one of my all-time food heroes.


Now as I’m sure you all know I always have some kind of tinned beans in my store cupboard so for this I’m using butter beans, they offer a good texture, good bulk and because they are already cooked you won’t need to soak them for hours and boil them for weeks. I used whole spices, dry toasted and whizzed in the spice grinder, if you don’t have a grinder just use already ground spices, they are a perfectly good substitute. Coconut milk is the liquid base, I used a fat reduced variety but only because that’s what I had, use whole fat for an even creamier dish. Given that the word cabbage appears in the title I suggest you use some type of cabbage (I had a heart of a sweetheart cabbage left in the fridge so used that) but failing cabbage you could substitute it for young kale, spinach or chard, finely chopped it does just as well.


The other veg I had to hand were new potatoes, a red pepper and celery. The potatoes are good for bulk and add to the thickening of the sauce, the pepper could be substituted with aubergine or a squash but try and use things that work well together. It’s no use using peppers if you hate them is it?

The message as always is use up what you have, adapt recipes, mine or others because they are not set in stone.  None of my recipes take hours, very few take longer than 30 minutes so you can freshly cooked dinner/lunch/supper ready quickly.

This recipe easily makes enough for 4 people, I generally make enough to have the next day, either for work lunch or the following evening’s dinner.



Spice mix:

8 cardamom pods, split and seeds set aside

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (black will be fine)

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Lightly toast these together in a heavy pan and then grind to a fine powder.

You also need-

2 teaspoons of turmeric-I used ready ground

½ teaspoon asafoetida


 I fresh or frozen chilli-use more if you want it really hot but don’t overpower the spice flavours with heat. Used dried chilli flakes if you haven’t got fresh.


6-8 small/medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 large tin of beans (butter, cannellini, chick peas or even red kidney beans)

1 large tin of coconut milk

1 red pepper-chopped

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon of crushed garlic (fresh or lazy)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger (or a squeeze of the lazy kind)

1 stock cube or stock pot

1 large stick of celery

Several handfuls of finely chopped cabbage, young cabbage is the best option as it goes in at the end.



Melt the coconut oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat, adding the garlic/ginger mix. Stir for a few minutes then add the finely chopped onion and chilli, keep stirring and make sure it doesn’t catch or burn. Add the remaining vegetables and beans, stir to amalgamate thoroughly. Stir in the spice mix and again stir to make sure all the vegetables and beans are coated. Pour in the coconut milk and mix together. Allow to simmer, covered, for around 15 minutes them remove the lid so any excess moisture escapes which lets the curry thicken. Stir in the finely chopped cabbage or greens and cook for a further 5 minutes. Test the potatoes with a fork to ensure they’re cooked through, if not a few more minutes should see them soften.


Serve with plain basmati rice or chapatis, dress witsome chopped fresh herbs or a few rocket/salad leaves.


I hope you give it a try-let me know how you get on, if you have any suggestions to add etc. Most of all enjoy the cooking, eating and sharing of a lovely meal. Happy cooking.