The aduki (or adzuki or azuki) bean, small, round, and reddish-brown in colour, is used a great deal in Far Eastern and Asian cookery. It has a subtle mix of flavours, being sweet, nutty, with a hint of chocolate, and it is actually the case that combined with sugar it does serve as a chocolate substitute. The walnuts in this pâté enhance the nutty texture, while the thyme, which is a strong tasting herb, gives a sharper tang to the natural sweetness of the bean.
Aduki Beans, 225g (8 oz) cooked weight, or drained and rinsed contents of one 400g tin
1 medium aubergine, about 225g (8oz) in weight, wiped clean, topped, tailed, and chopped into smallish chunks
Dried walnut halves or pieces, 50g (2oz)
1 large field mushroom
Dried thyme, scant level teaspoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil or fat
In a frying pan or saucepan which allows you plenty of room, gently fry the aubergine and mushroom for a couple of minutes in the oil or fat of your choice (I used groundnut oil for this). Try not to let the aubergine burn, though some light crisping will not harm the final taste. Whatever oil or fat you choose you will need more of it than usual. You may even want to add some extra during the cooking because both aubergines and mushrooms are very absorbent.
Stir in all the other ingredients and cook together for a couple of minutes. Cover with stock and simmer for between ten and fifteen minutes until the aubergine and walnuts have softened and virtually all the liquid has reduced. If there is any liquid left, spoon or pour it off. Leave the mixture for a few minutes to cool. Then blend smooth.
Turn into pots and allow them to cool completely. Pot and chill in the fridge. Freezes well.