It might sound unlikely, but when my children were teenagers this was one of their favourite dishes – or at least that’s what they used to tell me! I think it was the combination of firm beans and soft vegetables in a rich, smoky tomato sauce with deep flavours of paprika and soy. Oh, and the fluffy cheesy dumplings which they used to fight over! I haven’t made this recipe for years but when I saw some aduki beans in our local supermarket I thought I would give it another try. And it’s as good as I remember…
A large leek or a couple of small ones
A red onion
A handful of mushrooms
A cup of dried aduki beans (approx. 4oz)
A tin of chopped tomatoes
Two cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp flour
Half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
A vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper to taste
For the stew
For the dumplings
4oz plain flour
2oz any hard cheese, I used parmesan
A handful of parsley
1tsp of baking powder
3 tbsp milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Unless you are using tinned beans (also an option) you will need to soak the aduki for at least four hours or preferably overnight. Rinse off the soaked aduki beans, put them in a pan of clean water and boil for around 30 minutes. Drain but save the cooking liquid, it’s full of goodness and taste!
While the aduki beans are cooking you can prepare the vegetables and make the base for your stew. Make a cut along the length of the leek and wash under a running tap, making sure there is no mud between the layers. Then slice. Roughly dice the onion, carrots and mushroom and then fry everything off in a little oil or butter.
After 10 minutes add the flour, paprika, tomato purée, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the vegetable stock cube, tinned tomatoes and as much of the cooking liquid as you need to make a rich sauce. Then add the beans and leave to cook for 20 minutes on the stove or in the oven, adding more water if the mixture gets too thick.
While the stew is cooking you can make the cheesy dumplings…
Place the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, chopped parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together and then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Then add the milk and mix to a firm dough with your hands. If the mixture is too dry or crumbly add a little more milk or water, if it’s too wet add a little more flour!
Cut the dough into eight pieces and roll into balls.
Pop the dumplings into the stew, push down into the liquid and cook for another 20 minutes or until the dumplings are light and fluffy.
Serve with grated cheese and sharp elbows!