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Azuki Beans

Azuki beans, also spelled as 'adzuki beans', are small reddish-brown beans which are grown widely throughout East Asia and the Himalayas. They are round in shape with a sharp point at one end and have a sweet, nutty flavor. Originated in China, these beans are widely used in making red sweet bean paste. They come in size of 5mm in diameter with distinctive white ridges along one side. The botanical name of azuki beans is 'Paseolus angularis', although they are commonly known by several other names like 'adsuki', 'aduki', 'asuki', 'chi dou' (Mandarin), 'feijao', 'field pea', 'hong xiao dou' (Mandarin), 'red oriental' and 'Tiensin red'. Azuki beans are annual plants, i.e., they need to be planted once every year. The term of 'azuki' is derived from the native Japanese term of the same name. Due to their sweet taste, they are used in making desserts, sweet drinks and sweet soups.
 
History of Azuki Beans

In the Orient, azuki beans have been grown for many, many years. There has been evidence that azuki beans were first grown in the Himalayan region. It was cultivated in China and Kora in around 1000 BC. It was later introduced in Japan around 1000 years, and today, it is one of the popular forms of beans in Japan.

Uses of Azuki Beans/Adzuki Beans

Azuki beans are edible beans used in food directly, without mixing them with any other food. In the
Far East, where they are termed as the 'Mercedes' of beans, they are primarily used as a confectionery product after the process of fermentation. In countries like China and Japan, there are used to make red bean paste. Azuki beans have a sweet taste, and hence they are also used in making sweets, desserts, sweet soups, etc. Azuki beans are also used for skin care treatment like removal of dark circles from under the eyes. Also, in Japan, azuki beans are cooked with rice and served during festive occasions. They are also eaten in the form of sprouts, tea or boiled.
 
Preparation, Availability and Storage of Azuki Beans
Azuki beans are found throughout the year, either in the form of dry beans or canned beans. Many health stores keep cans of azuki beans and are, thus, easily available, without having to grow them ourselves. Once bought, these azuki beans should be stored in an air-tight container or jar, and kept in a cool, dark environment.  

The easiest method of cooking azuki beans is to soak them in cold water for at least three hours and later on, simmer them for at least half an hour by putting them on top of a stove.

 
Health Benefits of Azuki Beans

Azuki Beans are also known as weight loss beans as they are low in calories and high in many vital nutrients like dietary fibre, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C and minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc. One cup of azuki beans contains 294 calories, 17.3 grams of protein and 57 grams of carbohydrates. Azuki beans also help in a proper movement of the bowel and help in lowering the level of cholesterol. There are reports that azuki beans may also help in curing breast cancer. Azuki beans also help in improving the bladder and kidney functions and are thus, effectively used in treating problems like bladder infections and urinary dis-function. Being a rich source of fibers, they also help in eliminating wastes and preventing the body from absorbing many harmful substances.
 
Azuki Bean Paste
Also known by the name of red bean paste, it originated in China and is primarily used in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. This paste is made by boiling and mashing the azuki beans and adding sugar or honey to it to sweeten the paste. Before making it sweet, it is recommended to remove the husk of the beans to make the paste more homogeneous and smooth.

Recipe for Making Azuki Ice Cream
Not many have heard of ice cream made of azuki beans. This ice cream can be both tasty and nutritious for children and adults alike. Following is a recipe for making home made azuki ice cream:

What is Needed?

(1st Part)

  • 1 cup of azuki beans which have been thoroughly washed and soaked for an hour
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of orange or lemon juice.
(2nd Part)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • Vanilla essence (1 teaspoon).
Method for Making Azuki Ice Cream
In a saucepan, mix azuki beans, 1/3 sugar, water and lemon juice and boil it for 10 minutes. Bring it to low heat and cook for another 3 hours until the beans are soft. After the beans have been boiled, strain the cooked beans and blend them into fine texture using a blender and put them in a refrigerator. Take a bowl and mix egg yolk and brown sugar and whisk them until the mixture becomes thick. In another large bowl, mix milk and cream and boil this mixture over medium heat. Then, slowly stir it in the mixture of egg yolk and then cook in low heat for about five minutes till it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and add vanilla essence to it. Stir it properly and refrigerate it. Once both the parts have been properly refrigerated, stir them together and freeze them in an an ice cream maker.