Creamy butter beans, also known as gigantes or giant lima beans, are stewed in the pressure cooker in a spiced tomato sauce. This quintessential Mauritian recipe can also be made on the stovetop. It’s great served over rice or even with boiled noodles, as many Mauritians do!
Butter beans are basically lima beans in giant format. They are also known as gigantes, and in Mauritius we call them “gros pois” which simply means big peas. I find their texture to be creamier than lima beans though and despite their large size, they are actually quite delicate and tender.
You’d think they would be tough to cook, but when soaked, they take much less time than many other beans to reach a creamy texture. In the pressure cooker, they can become overcooked in an instant and turn to mush!
Their amazing buttery melt-in-the-mouth creaminess and dainty taste are undoubtedly where these legumes get their name; they are among my favourite of all beans.
I particularly love them in curries which is quintessential of the Mauritian way of enjoying them, more often in roti or dal puri (dal stuffed roti). Another popular dish that is made with butter beans is to stew them in a tomato-based sauce.
Each household adds their own tweaks to the recipe and I am sharing my version below, the way I love to enjoy delicious stewed butter beans in tomato sauce.
No Pressure Cooker? You can make it on the stovetop.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, see this other recipe that is on the blog for Butter Beans in Tomato Sauce, that is made on the stovetop using precooked/canned butter beans instead. I do suggest cooking the beans first if you are making them on the stovetop, as cooking them together with tomatoes will hinder the cooking process, due to the acidity.
In a pressure cooker, the tomatoes don’t seem to cause an issue at all. They can be added at the same time and all cooked together, which result in beans that are infused with so much flavour. Nevertheless, you can certainly make this dish on the stovetop which I’ve done many times and it is also very delicious.
Pressure Cooker Butter Beans Stewed in Tomato Sauce
On a lazy day, I sometimes just add everything into the pressure cooker and let it do its magic while I’m onto other things. If you’re feeling like adding a tad bit more flavour into this stew, then go on and saute the aromatic ingredients first to release the natural oils and aroma, then drop in the beans and water.
With presoaked beans, it takes only 2 minutes after the cooker has reached optimum pressure, for the beans to be fully cooked without turning mushy. I haven’t tested this recipe with unsoaked beans as I am not a big fan of not soaking.
Whether I use a pressure cooker or not, soaking is something I like to do for dried legumes in general, except sometimes for lentils. I tend to think that there are certain nutrients that are activated when the bean is soaked since it thinks that it will grow. And I gather that this changes the chemistry, makes it more digestible and easier on the stomach.
Pressure Cooking Dried Unsoaked Beans
If you did not soak the beans, I am only guessing that they will need about 10 – 15 minutes of cooking time with about 250 – 350 ml [1 – 1½ cups] extra water. Then naturally allow the steam to release for about 10 minutes or more. But as I’ve mentioned I don’t usually cook unsoaked beans and I haven’t tested these timings and adjustments.
Conventional Stovetop Pressure Cooker
If you are using a conventional stovetop pressure cooker, stop cooking and turn off the heat at the very first “whistle”. Sometimes even that is too much for butter beans! They only need 1 – 2 minutes after the cooker has reached full pressure.
Electric Pressure Cooker
In this recipe, I am using the Cosori Pressure Cooker 6qt 8-in-1 model. In Canada, you can find it here. You can see it in action in the videos for these recipes – Vegan Cassoulet and Black Bean Stew. If you have an Instant Pot, I believe the butter beans will require about the same amount of time to cook at medium high pressure, as indicated in the recipe below.
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Pressure Cooker Butter Beans Stewed in Tomato Sauce
- 200 g dried butter beans, [1 cup]
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil, olive, sunflower, vegetable or coconut oil are all good
- 2 shallots or 1 small onion, sliced, omit if you don’t consume
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced or minced, omit if you don’t consume
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger paste, see notes for our tutorial on how to make your own
- 1 large fresh tomato, diced, [150 g, 1 cup], you may also use 1 cup canned tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon paprika, optional
- 1 – 3 bay leaves, depending on size, you may also use 5 – 10 fresh/dried curry leaves
- 2 green chillies, or 1 dried red chilli, optional
- 5 – 6 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
- Place the dried butter beans in a large bowl and cover with plenty of water. Leave to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- The next day, drain all the water.
- In the pressure cooker, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Set the pressure cooker to saute mode or manual mode on medium-high temperature.
- Allow the oil to heat, then add the shallots, garlic, ginger paste and green chillies. Saute for about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, cumin, garam masala and paprika. Stir to combine, and saute for about 2 minutes. Add a little water if tomatoes are starting to stick to the pan.
- Next add the soaked butter beans and 600 ml [2⅓ cups] water. Add the bay leaves, thyme, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine and close the lid.
- Place the valve into the closed position. Set the cooker on manual for 2 minutes only, at medium-high pressure (4/5).
- After the time is up, allow the steam to be naturally released for 10 – 12 minutes. And then, release any remaining steam and open the lid.
- If there is too much sauce in there, set the cooker on manual or saute mode for a few minutes and let some of the liquid evaporate, while stirring occasionally.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice, bread or roti.