Black Beans Simmered in an Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Black Beans Simmered in an Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Rather like a rajma, a classic North Indian dish characterized by the presence of kidney beans simmered in a spiced and an oh-so-fragrant aromatic tomato gravy that stimulates the appetite before dinner is even ready to enjoy, this time sweet and creamy black beans take the shining legume role. I could have easily named this recipe black bean rajma except that kidney beans did not make an appearance, which is the distinguishing element of rajma, but this dish stands up in its own right. Though the method is the same, and the spicing and ingredients quite similar, each bean provides its own unique profile to a dish, and the pearl-like quality of the black beans are just as fragrant and earthy and filling as their kidney bean counterpart, with a hint of natural sweetness for a delightful twist on a classic. If you can't riff in the kitchen on a theme, the beauty of making good nourishment is unnecessarily diminished. Have fun with your ingredients, and nourish your soul in the process.

Black Beans Simmered in an Aromatic Tomato SauceBlack Beans Simmered in an Aromatic Tomato Sauce
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 25, 2019

Tender black beans simmered in a rich and fragrant classic Indian spiced tomato sauce

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 60 to 70 minutes

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  • 1 1/2 cup dried black beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 black cardamon pods, lightly crushed
  • 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 to 3 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder (optional)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • Rinse the beans and soak in several inches of water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse. Transfer the beans to a large saucepan and cover with 4 cups of fresh water. Add the cardamon pods, cinnamon stick and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 50 minutes.

  • While the beans are cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and fenugreek seeds if using, and stir for 60 seconds or until the mustard seeds turn grey and being to splutter and pop. Toss in the asafetida, stir once, then reduce the heat to medium and add the ginger and chilies to the pan. Stir and fry for another minute.

  • Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, paprika, cayenne, and amchoor powder if using, and stir for a minute until the spices are fragrant. Add the tomatoes to the pan, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the fenugreek leaves and cilantro and remove from the heat.

  • When the beans are tender, pour the sauce into the beans and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit more water.

  • Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala along with the salt, and serve hot, garnished with more chopped cilantro if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Black Bean Rajma

Other black bean recipes to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Curried Black Beans with Tomatoes and Spices
Indian-Style Smoky Black Bean Chili
Black Bean Chili With Mushrooms and Toasted Spices
Spicy Tamarind Black Beans

Audio accompaniment: Nils Frahm - Says

This is my submission to My Legume Love Affair, a monthly event celebrating the goodness of legume, administered by me, and kindly hosted this month by Sasmita of First Timer Cook. Please see her announcement for details and to participate this month.

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