Thursday, October 24, 2013

Curried White Bean Dip and Venturing Outside your Comfort Zone

On the first day we moved into our house a few years ago, a lady knocked on our door carrying a basket. She looked weirdly suspicious what with her perfectly coiffed hair and matchy matchy pink velour tracksuit so I didn't open the door. Later we learned she was our neighbor, coming to drop off muffins to welcome us to the neighborhood. Turns out living in big city apartments had made me a tad bit paranoid. And in case you were wondering whether people who aren't living in movies actually bring muffins by, why yes, in suburbia they do.

I'm still having a bit of a hard time with the whole transition to suburbia thing. And it's been a few years already! The truth is, it's hard to get years of city living out of your system. You get used to ignoring your neighbors, staring at your phone in the elevator, and basically, being a Scrooge to everyone around you. Heck, you even start liking it after a while. And then, all of a sudden, you find yourself in a bit of a Leave it to Beaver rerun and it's a shock. I'm doing my best to wave at neighbors, make random small talk at neighborhood watch meetings, and pet people's dogs on our weekend walks but every time I run into someone, my natural inclination is to glower at them suspiciously or better yet, to ignore them altogether as I unload my groceries or water my flowers. The Hubster calls me Mr. Wilson, you know the cranky old man neighbor in the Dennis the Menace cartoons. It's true, I don't like kids on my lawn.

The Hubster, on the other hand, has eased into suburbia like he was made for neighborhood watch meetings and community BBQs. The man somehow knows that our neighbors on the left are contemplating planting fruit trees, the folks across the way bought a new lawnmower, oh and Billy down the block was suspended last week because he stuck his gum in someone's hair. When he and Little Man go to the neighborhood park, it's hilarious to see kids and parents alike scream, "It's Little Man and his baba, the Hubster!" And then the Hubster goes on a bit of a Regis Philbin tour, shaking hands and kissing babies, while Little Man runs to the slide. I hang back, wondering if I can run home and hang out in my quiet backyard. Yup, Mr. Wilson indeed.

Except at the last neighborhood watch meeting, the Hubster got us invited to couple's bunco night. Yeah that expression on your face is spot on. I didn't know anyone besides the Real Housewives played bunco either. So apparently, this bunco night is a big deal. It involves a carefully orchestrated spreadsheet rotating hosts, listing players, and most importantly, snack contributions. And while I may be Mr. Wilson about all things neighborhood, I love me a party with good snacks.

The perfect snack, particularly where a game night is involved, is crucial. You don't want to be the fool that brings the Costco-sized bag of chips and salsa when everyone has clearly put real effort into their contribution. Oh, and you definitely don't want to bring soup. How the heck is anyone supposed to play a game when both their hands are occupied with a scalding bowl or mug?

No, the perfect snack contribution has to be easily accessible with one hand, substantial enough in case everyone else brings things like popcorn, and has to showcase some effort. Enter, the Curried White Bean made with creamy cannellini beans, caramelized onions, and fragrant curry powder. Bring it with some fancy seeded crackers and crudites to your next neighborhood gathering and I promise you'll be invited back. Assuming that's what you're after. Or heck, don't bring the dip. Just sit on your rocking chair on your porch, waving your fist, and yelling at kids to get off your lawn. Your call.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and Google bunco.

Curried White Bean Dip

2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan. When oil is hot, add onions and cook on low and slow heat until onions are caramelized. You will need to stir every now and then to ensure the onions don't burn but rather, take on a golden color. When onions are almost caramelized, add the minced garlic and stir. Ensure garlic is cooked but does not burn.

While onions are caramelizing, rinse cannellini beans under water. Add beans, caramelized onion mixture, and curry powder to food processor. Drizzle in oil slowly (about 1-2 tablespoons) and blitz until smooth. Chop cilantro finely, and add chopped cilantro and lemon juice to dip and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with seeded crackers, veggies, or my personal favorite, Ruffles!


  1. Until now I hadn't heard of bunco...will need to Google that after I finish this comment.

    Suburbia is hard to get used to. I tried it. I failed. I am just a city girl I guess! So kudos to you for giving it a shot, and kudos to your husband for being such a friendly neighbor. I think that is awesome!

    PS: If I moved to suburbia it would be near you so I could hopefully get some muffins out of the deal. :)

  2. don't know what bunco is either and being friendly to my neighbors is not happening anytime soon to me. I always pray that I wont have to live suburbia life - big houses, lawn, and muffin carrying neighbors really scares me.

  3. this looks so good and full of flavor

  4. I was born and raised in Miami and now I live in North Florida, a definite adjustment and after twenty-years, I am liking it. Yes, the game of Bunco our friends call it "drunko" it is a fun, mindless game of dice, and with a good group of friends, can be loads of fun. I hope you enjoyed it. I know they enjoyed your curried white bean dip.

  5. Oh my goodness, you had me laughing out loud. We've moved back to our childhood town, and we're also adjusting to suburbia. There are parts of me that desperately miss living in a big city...but our neighbors brought us muffins too (which was really nice!) This dip looks perfect...and a great way to get out and meet the locals. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Oh my friend, I have to school you in the ways of the suburbs, lol. I've been in them most of my life, so I know the bunco circuit well. Snacks are key and I'm glad you knew that. Those kids on my lawn don't bother me too much but the people who let their dogs go on it and don't pick up, is enough to make me lose it. I hope you guys have the best weekend, yeah it's almost here.

  7. I didn(y even know what bunco was and i don't' watch that serial you mentioned :-) wish i lived in a neighbourhood like you , Some 23 years ago when i came here and comming from a very small town from the first day i locked my door with key after hubby went for work and i never even opend up the door if someone rang for few months ( new language etc) so one evening by 8 i heard the door bell ringing and i didn't answer and it rang few times still i didn't open up , hubby came later in the evening and the i heard it was th epolice who was ringing door to door as there was this thief who espcaped and they wanted to tell everyone don't open up the doors etc :-) The bean dip looks so good.

  8. I'm a big fan of cannellini beans so I have got to try this! The dip looks super comfortable and creamy!

  9. We have a bunco night with friends every month,loved it in the beginning...slowly kinda getting bored of it:-)..
    We live in a fun and friendly neighborhood where everyone knows each other and they stand out and talk for hours, well, I still am getting used to that idea..:)
    Love using beans for dips and hey, this is yum, curry and all.

  10. Suburban life is exhausting, but I'm doin' it for the kids.... I mean, what kid wants to be the one with the mean mom? ;-)


  11. I've never heard of bunco - maybe it's a suburbia thing I've not encountered yet? When Peter and I first moved out to Illinois, I brought my northeast mentality with me. I didn't get why people would chat with me at the grocery store or other random places - I mean, I kept looking for the hidden agenda - but I think we've gotten a little more used to it. Definitely different than city living :)

    This white bean dip looks amazing, especially with curry! I never would have thought to add it. If we ever find out what bunco is, I'll have to have you over for curry bean dip and bunco :D

  12. You and I sound very very very alike. I hate having to talk to people in the elevator or even CO-EXIST with them in the elevator, sans talking. Not sure how i'd ever deal with suburbia. If there were dips involved i could perhaps be persuaded to be more friendly. But mostly I'd just stuff my face with dip.

  13. So true! It is really hard getting the city out of your system. I dread suburban living. I've lived in Mumbai and then we bought an apartment in a town. I just can't bear the thought of those cookie cutter houses every which way I look.
    The dip looks great and I am googling bunco right after.

  14. You gave me a good laugh with this post. And the dip looks delicious! I am sure it was a hit at bunco night!

  15. So funny I just ate white bean dip with cilantro at a Latin brunch today, and I was like I have to replicate this.. well, hopefully I can. Love the curried version here. OMG... I live in an apt bldg just outside NYC and yeah, no one knows their neighbors... ppl are just so aloof, but you get used to it. I only comment on ppl's dogs in the elevators cuz I love the little cute dogs. :-)

  16. What neighboorhood?

  17. Hahaha! This post truly made me laugh, Mr.Wilson! :D Your fear and suspicion of neighbours sounds exactly like what we think of over-friendly people in Mumbai! The small town I grew up in was a place where everyone knew everyone and their families. But here in the big bad city, you ignore neighbours, look at your phone while in the levatore, and look through your keyhole at kids and then switch off all lights and act like the house is empty :/ I think I need that curried white bean dip now. Oh, and a bottle of wine.

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