Black Bean Chili

Here is a delicious recipe for black bean chili which I invented myself. It has very few ingredients, taking its flavour from the quality and synergy of each, as well as the herbs and spices.



1 medium to large sweet potato

1 cup of dry black beans

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp corn starch (sometimes known as corn flour – the light, powdery kind)

1 large onion (or 1 1/2 medium onions)

2 medium to small tomatoes

1 1/2 tsp thyme

1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cumin

1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Chili powder / chopped chilis at your discretion (it’s hard to provide exact measurements as the strength of the powder varies immensely – not to mention the tastes of the consumers)

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Salt to taste

A generous squeeze of lime


Prepare the black beans the night before, or in the morning if you are cooking it for dinner. Leave them to soak in a large bowl with ample water. Add the baking soda, stir briefly, and leave. It will need 8 hours minimum to soak. (See also: How To Cook Black Beans)

Chop the sweet potato in 1 1/2 cm (1 inch) cubes. Chop the onions in squares of that size, too. If you cry a lot, try putting on swimming goggles – you’ll look silly but at least the onions won’t hurt your eyes.

Now drain the black beans and add them to a pot with only  just enough water to cover. Cover the pot. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook until the black beans are done, 15-25 minutes, adding a little more water if the top beans become uncovered. (If it takes longer than 15 to 25 minutes, you probably forgot the baking soda while soaking the black beans – bad luck! Have fun with your 2 hour cooking time). You can test the black beans by removing one with a fork and blowing on it a while; it should be nice and tender to the bite.

Drain the black beans’ cooking liquid into a frying pan and turn on the heat on high. Add the onions. “Water fry” the onions in the boiling stock for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato, as well as all the herbs, spices and salt. Continue to “water fry” until the sweet potato is done and the stock has evaporated. (A little liquid is okay, but not too much). If it all evaporates before the sweet potatoes are done, add a little oil and fry them conventionally. Remember to scrape the pan with your spatula so that no dried black bean stock gets stuck to it.


Add the black beans to the mixture. Chop your tomatoes into much the same sizes as you did with the onion and sweet potato. Put them into the mixture too, and stir. Cover, and leave for five minutes. The heat from the mixture will “cook” the tomatoes a little. (Note that tomatoes are acid, so don’t add them to the black beans while they are cooking or they will slow down the process of them cooking).

Serve with a squeeze of lime, either in tacos, burritos, wraps, or on corn tortillas. Rice also works.