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Vegan Indian Butter Bean Curry

Butter Bean curry, an Indian-inspired vegan curry featuring lima beans in a richly spiced and boldly flavoured tomato gravy, just add naan!

Using canned or tinned butter beans is a wonderful shortcut that means that this delicious curry cooks in just 30 minutes.

Overhead Indian butter bean curry served with a naan bread.

Indian Lima Bean Curry

Generally speaking lentils are the pulses most commonly associated with Indian food. Featuring in dishes like chicken dhansak and the classic dal makhani, they are incredibly common.

But curry beans may seem like something dreamed up in a student’s kitchen! However, Indian durries featuring beans are not uncommon.

Arguably the most well known is rajma masala, a delicious kidney bean curry.

This vegan butter bean curry recipe is very much the product of my imagination though.

It features classic Indian ingredients and techniques fused with tinned beans to make a quick and simple curry.

But quick and simple does not mean lacking in complexity when it comes to flavour. This dish has lots of big but perfectly balanced flavours and a reasonable punch of heat.

This spicy treat cooks in under half an hour and the large creamy beans have the most incredible texture. It is also used in a modified form as the base for my fish finger and bean curry.

Indian vegan butter bean curry served with coriander and red onion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use dried beans?

Yes, of course… You will just need to soak and cook them first.

What is the difference between butter beans and lima beans?

Absolutely nothing at all! They are just regionalised names for exactly the same thing.

What is passata?

Passata is nothing more than sieved tomatoes. I like to use it in many of my dishes over tinned tomatoes as I personally find that it gives a much more pleasing texture.

In the US it is often referred to as tomato sauce, although you do need ensure that it features no additional seasoning.

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes, but you do need to cook it and drain it first as it will leach too much liquid into the gravy.

Personally speaking, I would rather leave it out and add something like frozen green beans or even peas.

Close up Indian butter bean curry served with coriander and red onion.

Serving Suggestions

It’s a curry so there are of course the obvious serving suggestions for this butter bean curry.

Chapatis or even better my tandoori naan are absolutely perfect for mopping up the thick and tasty gravy.

But this dish is also a bit of a cross-over recipe and I’m British so beans in a sauce for me mean one of two things, beans on toast or ladled over a buttery jacket potato.

If it is worth owt, I now cook my jacket potatoes in an air fryer, they are awesome!

But I’m not done, a few other dishes that these curried lima beans work really well with are my roast Bombay potatoes, aloo methi and my nargis kebab recipe.

Indian vegan butter bean curry served with coriander, red onion in a kadai.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan with a lid.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Grater.
  • A combination of weighing scales, measuring cups and spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
Indian vegan butter bean curry served with coriander, red onion and a naan bread.
Yield: 2 Servings

Indian Butter Bean Curry Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Vegan butter bean curry featuring canned lima beans in a richly spiced tomato based gravy is the perfect meat free spicy treat to serve as a main or a side.


  • 350g (1¾ Cup) Cooked Butter Beans
  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 12 Curry Leaves
  • ¼ Tsp Asafoetida
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • ½ Tsp Ajwain Seeds
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 75g (½ Cup) Onion
  • 1 Tsp Mashed Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Grated Ginger
  • ½ Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • 1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 375ml (1½ Cups) Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Sugar
  • 75ml (⅓ Cup) Water
  • 100g (~3 Cups) Baby Spinach


  1. Split the green chillies in half lengthways.
  2. Cut the onion into a rough 1.5cm (½") dice.
  3. Crush the cardamom pods gently with the side of a knife.
  4. Heat a 8" or 20cm saucepan over a medium heat and when it is at temperature add the vegetable oil.
  5. When the oil is hot add the slit chillies and curry leaves and stir for 15 seconds.
  6. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds, ajwain seeds, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and cook until the mustard seeds start to "pop and crackle".
  7. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes to soften, if the onions start to colour reduce the heat.
  8. Add the mashed garlic and ginger and cook for another 60 seconds.
  9. Stir through the ground turmeric, chilli pepper, cumin and coriander.
  10. Pour in the tomato passata, salt, sugar and fenugreek leaves, then reduce the heat to low and stir to combine.
  11. Add the beans, stir again and cook for 5 minutes.
  12. Finally, add the spinach, pour over the water, add a lid and cook until wilted, which should take no longer than 3-4 minutes, then stir and serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 374Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 684mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 19gSugar: 14gProtein: 20g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

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