Spicy Red Beans, Indian Style

MAKES: 8 servings

TIME: About 2 hours

The spicy combination of beans and tomato sauce will remind you of chili, only with a twist. This freezes well, but if you don’t want the leftovers or aren’t feeding a crowd, it’s easy enough to cut the recipe in half.

If you have cooked beans in the fridge or freezer, use them and cut the total time to about 20 minutes. (Just skip down to Step 2.) This doesn’t require much of the cooking liquid anyway, since most of the flavor is in the tomato sauce.

Other beans you can use: chickpeas, black beans.

1 pound dried red beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like

1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

1 tablespoon ground cardamom

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 cups chopped tomato (canned are fine; don’t bother to drain)


1 tablespoon garam masala or curry powder (to make your own, see Hot Curry Powder or Fragrant Curry Powder), or to taste

Cook the beans in water to cover with the cayenne until they are just about tender; this will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on their freshness and whether you soaked them.

Meanwhile, put the oil in deep skillet or large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, and turmeric and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, until it breaks up a bit, 5 minutes or so.

03.png Drain the beans, reserving a little of their cooking liquid, and add them to the tomato sauce along with a large pinch of salt. Continue to cook until the beans are fully tender, adding a little of the bean cooking liquid if necessary. When the beans are done, add the garam masala, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.