Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Black Beans curry - Mexican style Rajma

Beans (black beans or pinto beans or kidney beans) are widely used in Mexican cuisine and form a very important part of their meals either in the form of curry or in soups, salads and relishes. 

When I first tried the black beans curry at Chipotle, it reminded me of Rajma Chawal (Red kidney beans curry with Rice) which is a staple food in north Indian region and one of my favorites. I was excited to come across the Mexican version of it - Black beans Curry. They are similar yet unique in their own ways. 

Black bean curry is very similar to the way you would make Rajma Curry (Red Kidney beans curry) except the peculiar combination of Indian spices that differentiates the two. It is definitely a good alternative to regular version whenever you feel like having Rajma in the Mexican way. 

You can serve this curry with Rice along with side of some onion tomato salsa (salad) or use it to make a Chipotle Bowl at home. 

Ingredients :-

1 cup black beans
3-4 cups water
1 tbsp Oil
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or as per taste)
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt to taste
1 jalapeno slit in half vertically  (optional and to taste)
handful of finelu chopped cilantro 
1 tbsp Lime juice (or to taste)

  • Soak the beans overnight or for 8 hours. I recently read about why not to soak black beans, read notes below to know more 
  • Wash and boil/cook the beans with some salt and water (around 4 cups) in a pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles (may vary based on the quality of beans). If you dont have a pressure cooker, use a large heavy bottomed saucepan and cook the beans with water and salt till they are soft (approximately an hour, again can vary as per beans quality). Test by pressing it with a spoon on one the beans - it should get mashed easily. Drain the beans. You may want to keep this drained water and use later to adjust the gravy consistency.
  • Heat oil in a pan, once hot add bay leaves and onion. Saute till onions are translucent
  • Add garlic and cook for 2 mins till the raw flavor of garlic disappears. 
  • Add red chilli powder,cumin powder, oregano, salt and mix well.
  • Now add the beans and stir. Add the water (used for cooking the beans) to adjust the consistency as desired. 
  • Mash the beans to get a creamy consistency of the gravy  and add the slit jalapeno
  • Simmer on low to medium heat for 15-20 mins. 
  • Switch off the heat and squeeze in the lime jucie, add the chopped cilantro and stir to mix. 

Notes: - 

  • Dont soak your black beans. While it reduces the cooking time, pre-soaking breaks down the skins and leaves them mushy and dull colored (sort of gray). If you are in a rush, instead try good quality canned black beans (well drained and washed). They are not same but they will with the right seasoning and simmering. 
  • You can see that the pictures show a different gravy color (not really black) i.e. because of the soaking. I had soaked the beans while shooting for this recipe. But ever since I read about this "Not to soak black beans", I love the color and earthy flavor in gives to the curry. 

That's it, our delicious earthy flavored Black Beans Curry is ready!! Garnish with coriander or sour cream and serve hot with Rice. Enjoy!!

Do try this alternative to Rajma Curry (Red kidney beans curry) and tell me how you liked it. 

Happy Cooking!!


  1. Yummyyyyyy black beans curry!!!

  2. nice looking rajma in mexican style ...

  3. Looks perfect, neat presentation. Very yummy and delectable dish.

  4. hi ,

    nice to see someone from India also enjoy mexican food.

    Just a question. Hope you can help.

    Is black beans or black rajma available in India ?

    Is there a lot of difference in taste between the mexican black beans and the indian red rajma ?

    I'm trying to prepare Mexican food back in India after getting addicted to Chipotle in USA

    1. Hi Varun, You bet chipotle is very addictive:) Haven't seen black beans widely used in India but you can definitely substitute black with red kidney beans. There is a slight difference in taste but believe me its not that noticeable. Your curry is going to taste delicious. To be close to black beans opt for the smaller & darker rajma. Hoping you will try this dish & let me know how it turns out.

  5. Looks like a basic chili beans recipe, delicious.


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