Hyacinth Beans Masala Rice Pilaf

Hyacinth Beans Masala Rice Pilaf

This Hyacinth Beans Masala Rice Pilaf is the stuff of mom’s cooking in Indian homes. It’s a traditional dish that’s as tasty as it is nutritious and easy to make. A soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and vegan recipe.

As the new year rolled in, I mentioned I wanted to cook more this year with legumes I don’t use as often as I should in my cooking. One of the first recipes I put on my list to share with you is this delicious Hyacinth Beans Masala Rice Pilaf that is made often in homes in Maharashtra, my mom’s — and my own — home state.

A hyacinth bean, called vaal in India, is a rather compact-looking beige bean with a black and white eye, and I don’t ever recall seeing one in supermarkets here. Some online recipes confuse these beans for lima beans or fava beans, which are in fact very different beans. Hyacinth beans are easily available at Indian grocery stores here in the United States, and if you don’t have one near you, you could certainly use quick-cooking beans like lima in your recipe.

I first came upon a version of this rice pilaf years ago on one of my favorite spots to find Maharashtrian recipes, the One Hot Stove blog written by Nupur. Called Dalimbay Bhat in Marathi, this pilaf appears homely and simple, but don’t underestimate it because it is incredibly delicious.

Over the years I’ve tweaked this recipe only slightly for practical reasons. Nupur’s original recipe requires you to sprout and peel the beans, which produces a more delicate flavor. I usually do this when I cook this pilaf in summer, and it’s an effort well worth the time.


  • 1 ½ cups hyacinth beans, also called vaal beans. You can sub with lima beans. Soak these overnight, wash, and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover the bean by an inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes until tender but not mushy.
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil like coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 ½ tablespoon goda masala (garam masala will work at a pinch). Look in recipe notes below for link to both goda masala or garam masala recipes, or you can buy them online.
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or any red chili pepper powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup grated fresh coconut (you can buy this in frozen packs at the Indian grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves or cilantro for garnish


  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and when the mustard seeds sputter, add the onions and curry leaves.
  • Saute until the onions start to brown, then add the goda masala, cayenne, turmeric, and coriander. Stir to mix.
  • Add the rice and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the grains of rice turn opaque.
  • Add the drained hyacinth beans along with three cups of water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight lid, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes and let the rice stand another 10 minutes without uncovering.
  • Open the lid, add the coconut and cilantro, and mix with a fork, fluffing the rice gently. Serve hot with poppadum and an Indian pickle.
  • Notes
  • Find recipes for Goda Masala and Garam Masala here.


Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.9g | Protein: 4.5g | Fat: 2g | Potassium: 229mg | Fiber: 1.2g | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1.4mg

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