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Black Eyed Bean Daal

Black Eyed Bean Daal

We love South Asian (and particularly South Indian) cuisine and more often than not I am in awe of and slightly intimidated by the skill required by the spicing and the complicated flavour profile that is particularly difficult to replicate if you have not yourself tasted how the dish tastes at its best, how it is meant to taste. Some dishes are really incredible, and it is no wonder it is one of the great cuisines in the world. 

Over the years, I have nevertheless acquired a few South Asian dishes in my culinary repertoire that I am happy to serve, such as Chana Daal and Red Lentil Daal and these dishes do get served up regularly. While my cooking methods may often not be traditional, I generally get a thumbs up from my small, but consistent fan club. The main resource for any new South Asian recipes I try is Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy Vegetarian, it is straightforward and the dishes I have tried from the book have all been easy, satisfying and tempting fare. I generally follow her recipes very closely. I did tweak this recipe doing so mainly because of her inclusion of chilli (which I left out to keep the dish suitable for young children) but also because her version calls for asafoetida. While I do not feel strongly about this spice either way, and do find it quite tasty, I replaced it here with onion and garlic. 

Asafoetida is a spice commonly used in culinary preparations in the Jain tradition, where root vegetables and tubers, including garlic and onion, are avoided. The spice is pungent and when used properly can lend flavours very similar to onion and garlic. While we deeply respect the principles and practices of Jainism, we also like the taste and prebiotic effects of onions and the anti-inflammatory compounds of garlic so have used them in place of the asafoetida.

We have used both dried and canned beans for the recipe and both work really well. I prefer using dried beans, but I find it difficult to argue that they are substantively better than canned. As mentioned above, since we prepared this dish to serve to a toddler and a baby, we did not include any chilli, and instead added some dried chilli flakes and chilli oil to our bowls once the daal was served up. If you prefer to include chilli in the dish while cooking, please see the optional additions below.

Ingredients: (serves 2 hungry adults and 1 toddler as a main with a little left over for a hungry baby)

  • 1 cup dried black eyed beans (2 cans)
  • 45g coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil (we use rapeseed)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions: 

  • 2 green birds eye chillies (added to the blended coriander and tomato paste)
  • 1 dried red chilli(to fry with the onion and cumin seeds)


  • Rinse and then soak the beans overnight in a litre (4 cups) of water. 
  • Post soaking, rinse the beans again and place in a large pot with 1 litre of water and bring to the boil skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
  • Drain the beans but reserve the liquid and return them to the pot.
  • If using canned beans, drain the beans but reserve the liquid, then place the beans in a large pot and continue as below.
  • Blend the coriander and tomato paste with a few tablespoons of the reserved bean liquid.
  • Dice the onion and garlic, then place into a small sauce pan with the oil, turmeric and cumin seeds and fry until the onions have begun to brown, roughly 5 minutes.
  • Add the coriander mixture to the onion mixture and reduce the ingredients to a thick paste, approx. 5 minutes.
  • Add the paste to the beans and warm through. 
  • Add liquid reserved from the beans until a desired consistency is reached. For a thicker texture mash or blend a 1/2 cup measure of the daal.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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