Lubya is a delicious Afghan red kidney bean curry in warm tomato sauce. This curry is mild, soft, and hearty. Serve on basmati rice and top with garnishes of your choice.
I learned of lubya after reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. He paints a captivating and haunting picture of Afghanistan. Fully engrossed in the theme, I wanted to try an Afghan meal.
Lubya was one of the vegetarian dishes in the book, and I thought I would give it a try. I fell in love with how easy it is to make and the excellent flavor. Many years later, it is still a staple in our home.
Lubya also referred to as red kidney bean curry, is different from most curries. It has few spices and an overall mild flavor.
Table of Contents
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Healthy and nutritious vegan curry
- Easy recipe to make
Red Kidney Beans - I prefer to use canned beans for convenience. If you are using dried kidney beans follow the directions on how to soak them overnight or use a pressure cooker (instapot).
Tomatoes - I use canned tomatoes and wrote this recipe using such. However, you can substitute fresh tomatoes at a 1:1 ratio. I recommend fresh chopped tomatoes and cooking them longer to break them down.
Onion - Red onion has a strong flavor that really adds to this dish. Substitutions include white or yellow onions.
Garlic - Minced garlic brings out the best flavor for this recipe. In a pinch, you can substitute garlic paste or even garlic salt. Instead of a 1:1 ratio, I recommend seasoning to taste.
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How to Make Lubya
Time needed: 40 minutes.
How to make red kidney bean curry (Afghan lubya)
- Bloom the Spices
Over low - medium heat, melt a tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottom pot. Stir in coriander, cumin, and a pinch of salt—Cook for one minute. The spices should bloom and become aromatic.
- Cook Tomatoes
Slowly add the canned tomatoes and juices to the pot with the bloomed spices. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, about seven minutes. Stir as needed so that the tomatoes do not burn. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend into a tomato puree (smooth). Set aside.
- Saute Onions and Garlic
Melt the other tablespoon of oil over low to medium heat using the same pot. Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes. Limit stirring the onions so that they begin to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Combine all Ingredients and Simmer
Add the broth, the blended tomato sauce, red kidney beans, salt, and black pepper. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 15 - 20 minutes.
- Cook Rice
Cook brown rice or white rice according to the directions in the package.
Note - Most basmati white rice cooks for 20 minutes. Check the package before starting the recipe if the rice needs more time to cook.
- Assemble and Garnish
Scoop a serving of rice into a plate or bowl. Top with curry. Garnish as desired. Suggestions include cilantro, lime wedges (lime juice), green onions, and even red pepper flakes to spice the dish up.
Substitutions and Variations
Indian Curry-ish - This recipe can be modified with classic Indian seasonings. Do this by adding two teaspoons of garam masala and one teaspoon of paprika when blooming the coriander and cumin. I also recommend topping each bowl with fresh ginger.
Garbanzo Beans - Out of kidney beans? Dislike red kidney beans? No problem, garbanzo beans taste lovely with this recipe.
Spicy - If you want to spice this dish up a notch, add jalapeno. I recommend dicing the pepper and adding it when sauteing the onions.
Coconut Milk - Substitute vegetable broth with full-fat coconut milk for a rich and creamy curry. For a creamier texture add coconut cream.
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Make-Ahead and Storing
Make-Ahead instructions- You can make this dish up to three days ahead. I think it tastes better on day two. I recommend storing the rice and garnishes separately.
Refrigerator instructions - Place the curry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Freezer instructions- Store curry in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to three months.
Yes! Kidney beans are among the healthiest type of beans. I like this recipe because it combines beans, vegetables, and rice. It is an excellent balanced dish.
Dried beans typically soak in water overnight. For detailed instructions, follow this link.
Afghan Vegan Kidney Bean Curry (Lubya)
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter, olive oil, or coconut oil (28g)
- 1 tablespoon coriander (8g)
- 1 teaspoon cumin (2g)
- 1 15 ounce canned diced tomatoes (28g)
- 1 medium onion, red, yellow, or white (110g)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 15 ounce canned kidney beans (57g)
- 1 cup vegetable broth (235g)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup basmati rice (185g)
- lime wedges
- mint leaves
- green onion
- Over low - medium heat, melt a tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottom pot. Stir in coriander, cumin, and a pinch of salt—Cook for one minute. The spices should bloom and become aromatic.2 tablespoons vegan butter, olive oil, or coconut oil (28g), 1 tablespoon coriander (8g), 1 teaspoon cumin (2g)
- Slowly add the canned tomatoes and their juices to the pot with the seasoning. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down, about seven minutes. Stir as needed so that the tomatoes do not burn. Transfer the tomatoes mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.1 15 ounce canned diced tomatoes (28g)
- Using the same pot, over low to medium heat, melt the other tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes. Limit string the onions so that they begin to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 medium onion, red, yellow, or white (110g)
- Add the broth, the blended tomato sauce, kidney beans, salt, and pepper. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 15 - 20 minutes. Note: while the beans are simmering, start the rice.2 15 ounce canned kidney beans (57g), 1 cup vegetable broth (235g), salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish as desired. Suggestions include cilantro, mint, green onion and/or lime wedges.cilantro, mint leaves, green onion, lime wedges
- Cook according to the instructions on the bag.1 cup basmati rice (185g)