Butter bean curry, or lima bean curry, is a delicious protein packed and easy to make curry. We’ve made it with an Indian vegan jalfrezi sauce so it also features bell peppers and a moderately fiery spice mix (that can be toned down!). Great served with vegan raita and pilau rice.
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Popular for a reason – jalfrezi (and by association, vegan jalfrezi), is super easy to make, and totally delicious. So it’s no wonder that it’s a super popular curry across curry houses in the UK and worldwide. It often includes an easy powdered spice mix, a thick and rich gravy and always bell peppers. Although sometimes the spelling is ‘jalfrizi’ or ‘jalfrazy’, it’s always the same delicious curry. And now there’s a vegan jalfrezi x butter bean curry edition!
- Curry experts – I know we always say it. We should’ve started a curry blog, but here we are. A blog with a load of curry and supporting recipes. We love making curry, we’ve had a lot of practice and so consider ourselves to be expert curry makers! Just check out out Aubergine Curry, Seitan Curry, Chinese Curry and even this delicious Vegetable Bhuna.
- Butter beans are underrated – Butter beans (a.k.a. lima beans) are, in our opinion, super underrated. They're pretty big as far as beans go, and have a beautifully smooth, creamy (and buttery!) texture. We think the creaminess works great with the slightly spicy vegan jalfrezi sauce.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Butter beans – we used tinned butter beans for this vegan jalfrezi. They don’t take long to cook and don’t need soaking like dried beans. Butter beans are, of course, the key ingredient for butter bean curry! They’re packed with protein and should help to keep you full for longer. We recommend draining and rinsing the tinned butter beans before adding to the vegan jalfrezi. Top tip: the water in the tin of butter beans is known as aquafaba (it doesn’t just come from tins of chickpeas!). The liquid can even be kept to make vegan Yorkshire puddings and meringues.
- Peppers – No jalfrezi is complete without bell peppers! Green pepper is a must, but we like to include a red pepper too – the balance of the sweeter red pepper and the more bitter green pepper adds an extra element to the butter bean curry.
- Spices – this curry uses a pretty simple spice blend, with spices that are a staple of any spice rack. Featuring garam masala, cumin and turmeric powder, it’s a super easy blend. When combined with fresh green chillies, mustard seeds and an aromatic base of onions and garlic, it’s a recipe for a delicious vegan jalfrezi!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this butter bean curry recipe.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making vegan jalfrezi with butter beans. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Place a splash of oil in a large pan and then fry the onion for at least 5 minutes, over a medium high heat, until softened. If you gently fry them for 15 minutes, just until they start to brown, it will be even better – if you don’t have time, stick to 5 minutes.
2. Next add the garlic, chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Keep frying for another couple of minutes, until your kitchen smells wonderfully fragrant.
3. Sprinkle in the dry spices, stir well, cook for a further couple of minutes. Turn the heat down and add a tablespoon of water if it looks like the spices are sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the peppers and fry for a few more minutes.
5. Pour in the tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Finally, pop in the butter beans and stir well. Simmer for 20 minutes until the gravy is nice and thick. Serve with all the curry trimmings – pilau rice, roti and vegan raita.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Finger chillies – green chillies are the classic choice for a jalfrezi, but how many will you use? We've jumped in with 2 green finger chillies for this vegan jalfrezi, which should make a fairly hot curry. That’s because they are quite spicy chillies. But you should always work to your own spice level and try not to overdo it – you can add more but you can't take away! To make a milder curry, you could prick whole green chillies with a fork and then put them into the sauce, instead of chopping them. This way, the flavour still goes into the sauce from the chilli, but with a much reduced spice level.
- Vegetables – the classic ingredients for a vegan jalfrezi are onion and peppers, but sometimes we just want to pack in more veg. We love cauliflower, mushroom and peas in a jalfrezi curry as another option! Obviously, it has butter beans as it’s a butter bean curry too.
- Storage – butter bean curry freezes well, and in an airtight container will keep well in the freezer for at least 3 months. In the fridge this vegan jalfrezi will keep for up to 3 days and actually, as with most curries, the sauce will actually develop its flavour. It will get a bit spicier and richer in that time too!
- Onions – any great curry, including this one, usually starts with a base of onions. The longer you can fry them in oil, the better the curry will be! If you can cook them for 15-20 minutes until browned, the base of the curry will be excellent. If not, stick with 5 minutes, it will still taste delicious!
Yes, butter beans and lima beans are the same thing. It’s just two different words for the same legume.
Butter beans and chickpeas are totally different legumes. However, chickpeas are also an amazing bean. Great in curries too, such as this Palak Chana (Chickpea and spinach curry) and this Jamaican Curried Chickpeas.
Generally jalfrezi sauce is vegan. However, if ghee is added (which is common at Indian restaurants) the sauce wouldn’t be vegan anymore. It’s best to check with your restaurant because a lot have started switching to vegan-friendly non dairy ghee.
🍛 Serving suggestions
🇮🇳 More recipes to try
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Butter Bean Curry (Vegan Jalfrezi)
- 1 onion – chopped into large chunks
- 3 cloves garlic – crushed
- 2 finger green chillies – chopped finely
- 10 dried curry leaves
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 red pepper – chopped into chunks
- 1 green pepper – chopped into chunks
- 400 g tinned tomatoes
- 200 ml vegetable stock
- 480 g butter beans – 2 x 400g tins, drained
- 2 tbsp oil
- Place a splash of oil in a large pan and then fry the onion for at least 5 minutes, over a medium high heat, until softened. If you fry them for 15 minutes, until they start to brown, it will be even better – if you don’t have time, stick to 5 minutes.2 tbsp oil, 1 onion
- Next add the garlic, chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Keep frying for another couple of minutes, until your kitchen smells wonderfully fragrant.3 cloves garlic, 2 finger green chillies, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 10 dried curry leaves
- Sprinkle in the dry spices, stir well, cook for a further couple of minutes. Turn the heat down and add a tablespoon of water if it looks like the spices are sticking to the bottom of the pan.1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin powder
- Add the peppers and fry for a few more minutes.1 red pepper, 1 green pepper
- Pour in the tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes.400 g tinned tomatoes, 200 ml vegetable stock
- Finally, pop in the butter beans and stir well. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick. Serve and enjoy!480 g butter beans
- For a milder curry, simply prick the chillies while they’re still whole and add to the curry, instead of chopping them. Remove before serving.
- Freeze for up to three months, and keep in the fridge for up to three days.
- Any colour peppers can be substituted.