Spicy Tamarind Black Beans

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

The dried pulp of the tamarind fruit has a refreshing sour and slightly sweet tang that tempers and lends wonderful depth to spicy foods. Easy to prepare and use, the widespread use of tamarind in south Indian cooking gives many of the region's dishes a characteristic hot and sour taste as well as a lovely fragrance that invites the palate and prepares the appetite for an authentic, warming and delicious eating experience. My guests and I were tantalized by the aromas of this spicy tamarind black bean dish as it simmered on the stove, eager to see it finished, and delighted to find that the flavors matched the expectations.

The instruction for a 1-inch piece of tamarind is based on the cake form of the dried pulp sold in every Indian and Asian grocery here in North America. Likewise the asafetida and garam masala called for in this recipe are always easily found at Indian stores, or make a fresh batch of the garam masala spice blend using the instructions found here.

Spicy Tamarind Black BeansSpicy Tamarind Black Beans
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 2, 2011

Simple spicy black bean curry cooked with sweet and sour tamarind

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 to 45 minutes

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  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 1-inch piece tamarind pulp (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • large handful of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Rinse the dried beans under running water and soak for 8 hours or overnight covered in several inches of water. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans and add to a medium saucepan. Cover with several inches of fresh water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender but firm. Drain and set aside the beans and 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

  • Meanwhile, soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid into a bowl, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of the tamarind pulp. Discard the pulp and set aside the liquid.

  • Also during preparation, toast the ground cumin in a dry pan over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until the spice becomes fragrant and darkens a couple of shades. Set aside.

  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion and stir until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and continue to stir for 5 minutes, scraping the pan to prevent the ginger from sticking.

  • Now toss in the chili flakes, turmeric and asafetida. Stir for a few moments, then add the tomatoes and chilies, and cook until a sauce forms and the oil separates from the tomatoes, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir in the beans and the reserved cooking liquid, raise the heat, and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Now add the tamarind liquid, toasted ground cumin, garam masala, and most of the fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, and simmer for another 10 minutes to let the flavors gently blend.

  • Remove from heat and season with salt. Serve in bowls garnished with the remaining cilantro or parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Spicy Tamarind Black Beans

Other tamarind based recipes you may enjoy:
Mung Tamarind Dal
Tamarind Rice
Tamarind Chutney


Unknown said...

wow, so tempting over that bowl of rice :)

Sandhya Hariharan said...

Thank u for ur entry Lisa :) Your's is the first one for league!
This is yummm... and I m loving it!!

Suzanne said...

wow, that looks so hearty and delicious!

Anonymous said...

just saw your entry in the event, never thought of adding tamarind to black beans, yours is looking so good and interesting, will give a try
first time here, loved your space