Don’t be confused here, chilli beans are technically not hot and spicy as the name may indicate. The word ‘chilli’ is more a reference to the combo of herbs and spices – oregano, paprika, and sometimes cumin and coriander. I have also added a small amount of cocoa, an ingredient often found in traditional Mexican moles (a spicy sauce of chilli’s, capsicum, nuts and chocolate). This adds a lovely depth of flavour to the chilli beans, but in no way does it taste like chocolate (sorry!). The addition of the whole cloves of garlic adds an extra sweet element to the beans. Simply squeeze out the sweet garlic flesh onto your plate and mix into the beans.
1/2 cup dried black beans
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
OR 400g can each of black beans and kidney beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 rashers bacon, chopped (optional – omit if vegetarian)
1 red capsicum, diced
1 whole bulb of garlic, separated into individual whole cloves (unpeeled)
4-5 large tomatoes, chopped
OR 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup
Salt to taste
Tortillas, chopped coriander (cilantro), sour cream, lime and diced avocado to serve
If using dried beans soak in 3 times the water for 24 hours. Rinse the beans 3-4 times during this time to wash away the indigestible enzymes that cause gas and bloating. Drain the beans, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Note: never add salt when cooking beans or the skins will not soften. Drain the cooked beans.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a moderate heat and sauté with the onions and bacon, if using, for 5 minutes. Add the capsicum, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, and paprika. Bring to a gentle simmer, cooking for 20 minutes until nice and saucy. Add the drained beans and cocoa, cooking for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve with chopped coriander, sour cream (or soft goats cheese) and tortillas. You can also serve the chilli beans with rice, or wrap up in soft tortillas to make burritos.
Recipe and image by Nicola Galloway. Mother of two preschoolers, Nicola is the author of the popular cookbook Feeding Little Tummies – healthy recipes from babies’ first foods to family meals. Nicola is a trained chef with a diploma in nutrition, and writes the award-winning food blog Homegrown Kitchen.