Spicy Tamarind Black Beans

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Spicy Tamarind Black Beans

Black beans may not be the most flavorful of all legumes but their cooking broths are among the richest and creamiest, inviting all varieties of vegetables, herbs and spices to join in to make warm, tasty and colorful sauces. Tamarind and dry-roasted cumin combine to lend the sauce in this Indian-style black bean chili a lovely and unique sweet and sour but smoky blend of flavors.

The instruction here for a 1-inch piece of tamarind pulp is based on the cake form of the dried pulp sold in every Indian and Asian grocery here in North America.

Spicy Tamarind Black BeansSpicy Tamarind Black Beans
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on August 14, 2008

Indian-style black bean chili simmered in a hot, sour and tangy tomato and tamarind sauce seasoned with smoky dried roasted cumin

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  • 1 cup dried black beans (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1-inch piece tamarind pulp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 green chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • large handful of fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Rinse the black beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and add 2 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender but not falling apart.

  • Meanwhile, prepare the tamarind and toast the first portion of ground cumin. Soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of very hot water for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Strain the liquid into a bowl with a fine-meshed strainer, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of the tamarind pulp. Discard the pulp and set aside the liquid.

  • For the toasted ground cumin, heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat. When hot, toss in the 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin and dry roast for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring or tossing occasionally, until the spice darkens a couple of shades and releases a smoky aroma. Remove from heat and set aside the cumin. Wipe the pan dry with a damp cloth and set aside.

  • When the beans have cooked to a tender but firm shape, drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the beans to the pan with the reserved cooking liquid and add the tamarind liquid. Cover and continue to simmer.

  • Now put the frying pan back on the stove and heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, toss in the onions and fry, stirring frequently, until they turn brown around the edges — about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the pan. Stir in the untoasted ground cumin, turmeric and cayenne to coat the vegetables, then add the tomato and chiles. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes until the tomato has softened and the oil begins separating from the vegetables.

  • Spoon the fried vegetables into the beans and stir in the roasted ground cumin, garam masala, and half the parsley or cilantro. Cover the pan again and let the mixture gently simmer at low heat for several minutes to let the flavours blend. Stir in salt to taste.

  • Serve in bowls garnished with the remaining parsley or cilantro.

Makes 4 servings

Spicy Tamarind Black Beans


Usha said...

Looks delicious and I loved the dumplings in blueberry syrup below too :)

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say I've never cooked with tamarind, even though I'm a huge fan of Indian cuisine! This looks just lovely--I'm sure the flavor combination is great.

test it comm said...

This sounds like a tasty way to enjoy black beans and I am always looking for way to enjoy tamarind.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful looking dish Lisa and I agree with you about black beans producing a luscious broth. Tamarind and cumin - it doesn't get a lot better than that.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

although we rarely get tamarind I make sure I buy some chutney in a jar when I visit the Indian store. I love the sound of this Lisa!

BTW: watch out for the mailman!

Laura Paterson said...

Good tip re the black bean broth... I love tamarind, so this sounds right up my street!

Anonymous said...

Lisa, this sounds delicious. I'm entirely unfamiliar with tamarind pulp-- but I'm interesting in the flavor of this dish-- and may just have to head out and buy myself some of it to make this.

Ivy said...

Must definitely find out what tamarind is as I love Indian cuisine.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Great idea! I love black beans and love tamarind, just never thought about the two of them together. I'll definitely be making this as I have some tamarind I was needing to use up.

basil said...

Just made it and served it with some buttery millet and brown rice - awesome!

Anonymous said...

Made it yesterday and it was great! Will be making it again. Thank you!