Black Bean Chili
  • 4 cups dried black beans
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 2-1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (leaf, not ground)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups diced green bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4-1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 fresh jalapenos, seeded and deveined, finely chopped
  1. Sort and rinse the beans, place them in a pot with "enough" water and soak them overnight. Drain off water and rinse, add enough new water to cover by two inches and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until beans are tender (about 1 hour), adding more water if necessary. Drain beans, saving 3 cups of the liquid. Return beans to pot with 1-1/2 cups of the liquid.
  2. Roast red bell peppers under the broiler until the skin is charred, then throw it into a paper bag and close the bag. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees, put cumin seed and oregano in a small baking pan or casserole and roast until fragrant, shaking pan occasionally (about 10 minutes). Get the red bell pepper out of the bag, peel the skin off, remove seeds etc. (After peeling, if any parts look like they got badly burned, cut them away.) Chop.
  4. Heat oil in skillet. Saute onions, green pepper and garlic for 3 minutes, then add cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne and salt. Cook about 10 minutes more, then add tomatoes and jalapenos and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes. Add this mixture to the beans. Add bell peppers to beans. Simmer everything for a while, thinning with the rest of the saved bean liquid as desired.
  6. Roasting and peeling the red pepper is optional. If you don't roast it, just add it at the same time as the green pepper. And if you can't find a red pepper, throw in whatever color you can get.
  7. Roasting the cumin seed and oregano makes a big difference in the flavor. But be careful not to burn it, because then it will be the ONLY flavor.
  8. DO remember to take the seeds and veins out of the jalapenos. The idea is that the jalapenos should add "intensity" and "complexity", not remove layers of skin from your tongue.
  9. "Crushed" tomatoes are sort of halfway between chopped and pureed. You can buy them in cans, usually labelled "crushed tomatoes with puree". Or you can put canned "whole tomatoes in juice" through the blender (leave them partly chunky). Chopped fresh tomatoes by themselves aren't juicy enough.
  10. Exact amounts of the bean cooking liquid, tomatoes and salt used are up to you. I usually use about 5 cups of tomatoes, then add more bean liquid if it seems too "tomatoey". Salt depends on your tastes, diet and whether the tomatoes were already salted