Black Beans with Cracked Spices

I posted a picture of this black bean dish on Twitter yesterday and said I’d rustle up a recipe if there was interest. Among those who said they were interested was Mollie Katzen. Well, even though I was not planning to post a recipe this week, and even though our town was hit by a tornado last evening, I cannot say no to Mollie Katzen. Here therefore is the recipe. I made it with Rancho Gordo’s Midnight black beans, which are my absolute favourite black bean. They cook up fast, have a wonderful creamy texture and yield a delicious pot liquor that matches up well with whatever you throw at it. In this case, I did not throw very much at it. I cooked the beans on their own with a stick of cinnamon and tez patta (dried cassia/Indian bay leaf) and when done added to the pot a “tadka” of onion, tomato and garlic with a simple spice hit from cumin seeds split in hot oil, cracked coriander seed and a few dry red chillies. Not much to it, very easy to make, and extremely delicious. I had a big bowl for lunch, garnished with a bit of cilantro and with a squeeze of lime on top. Simple is good. 


  • 1 packet Rancho Gordo Midnight beans
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 large tez patta (dried Indian bay leaf)
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tspn cumin seed
  • 1/2 a large red onion, chopped
  • 3/4 tspn minced garlic
  • 1 tspn coriander seed given a one second whirl or two in a spice grinder; just enough to crack them open but not grind them to a powder
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric powder
  • 4 tblspns chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tblspn grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil of your preference)
  • Salt
  • Water


  1. Rinse the beans, place them in your bean pot with enough water to cover by a few inches and bring to a hard boil for about 10 minutes.
  2. Then reduce to a simmer, add the cinnamon and tez patta, cover and cook till almost done. Add more water along the way as needed to keep the beans covered.
  3. While the beans are cooking, make your “tadka” as follows:
  4. Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the cumin seeds.
  5. As soon as the cumin begins to become aromatic, add the dried chillies; stir to make sure they don’t burn—you just want them to puff up.
  6. Once the cumin seeds split add the onions and saute till they begin to brown.
  7. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
  8. Add the turmeric and cracked coriander seeds and saute for another minute or so.
  9. Add the tomatoes and salt and cook everything down till the oil separates.
  10. Add the contents of the skillet to the bean pot, mix in and simmer a little longer till the beans are completely done.
  11. Garnish with chopped cilantro, squeeze some lime over and eat out of a bowl (or with rice or chapatis, if you prefer).


  1. The Rancho Gordo Midnight beans cook up scarily fast. I did not soak this lot and they were ready in just about an hour!
  2. A little bit of chopped red onion in the garnish will also be very good. If you want to be kinky you could also add a bit of diced avocado.
  3. The turmeric is in here because Indians caught cooking Indian food without turmeric have to turn in their passports. Also, it will balance your chakras and whatnot.
  4. Resist the temptation to add more spices. The pot liquor is great and the lemony tang of the cracked coriander and the savoury depth of the split cumin set it off just right. The dried chillies add just a bit of heat.
  5. This is made essentially the way many dals are—see, for example, my recipe for kali dal/black lentils. For a slightly more involved recipe with black beans click here.

2 thoughts on “Black Beans with Cracked Spices

  1. Cath and I love black bean dishes. I will try this. I would add my dried fenugreek leaves I bought a few months back, I really like that flavor.


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