This hearty and satisfying dish of kidney beans, cooked for hours in a rich, spicy tomato and cocoa (yes, cocoa!) sauce, is perfect for feeding a lot of people with varying diet needs. It is vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free, and is just the ticket for Easter visitors. And unlike a seafood feast, a big pot of this won’t break the bank.
Don’t be scared to try the cocoa in this, it turns the sauce a rich red brown, and adds a depth of flavour that is not chocolatey at all. I first tried cocoa in chilli from a Nigella recipe and I haven’t looked back.
I like to serve this with rice, and a dollop of sour cream and avocado. A scattering of crumbled fetta would also be wonderful.
You’ll need to start this the day before in order to soak the beans. If you can’t get dried beans, use organic tinned kidney beans, but they will not hold their shape anywhere near as well over a long cooking period, so halve the cooking time in that case.
You can cook this in the oven, on the stove top, or in the slow cooker.
- 500 grams dried kidney beans
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons each: sweet paprika; cummin powder; coriander powder; chilli flakes (more if you like it really hot)
- 6 cardamon pods, crushed just enough to release seeds
- A few pieces of cinnamon bark
- Piece of fresh ginger, about the size of a golf ball
- Two tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 red capsicums, deseeded and chopped
- 3 x 400 gram tins of organic diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Cover the kidney beans in cold water and soak overnight, or for at least 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 160C
In a large flameproof casserole dish, saute the onions in olive oil until soft and turning golden, about 5 minutes, stirring as you go. Add the garlic, all of the spices, ginger, and stir. Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute, letting it brown a little. Add the capsicum, and saute in the mixture until it is soft, about 5 minutes.
Strain the beans and with the tomatoes. Mix well. Use a little water to rinse the tomatoes tins out and add that too. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the top, and mix in. You’ll notice the sauce will instantly turn a rich red brown. Put the lid on, put in the oven and cook for two and a half hours. Check it a few times to see if it needs more water and to stir it all up and stop it from sticking.
You could also do this in a slow cooker (for longer), or on the stove top for the same time, over a low heat, but checking more frequently to ensure it’s not burning on the bottom.
It’s a good idea to warn guests about stray cardamon pods, which when cooked and plumped up bear an unfortunate resemblance to small cockroaches.