One of the first things I missed when I came to London was the very popular Brazilian black beans that go with rice, steak and French fries. A typical Brazilian meal.
Black beans are the most consumed beans in Brazil and have many health benefits. Since I was pregnant I have increased my consumption of this nutritious and high protein grain to increase my iron level. I also introduced these to my daughter when she was 8 months old and to my delight she loved them. To help the body absorb the iron from the beans I always eat them with an orange.
Strictly speaking black beans are very straightforward to cook. I don’t add any meat or fat. It is different from the famous Brazilian feijoada. You just need to cook in water until soft and season them at the end. However, like many people, if the beans are not cooked in a certain way my body will not digest them well and I will have some uncomfortable symptoms.
Before I start the cooking process I soak the grains for 8-12 hours to soften the skin and begin the sprouting process which eliminates phytic acid and tannins and this makes more minerals available and the grains more digestible.
Like Mexicans I also add some herbs to help prevent wind! The Mexicans use a herb called epazote but, as I could not find any in the UK, I add fresh fennel or coriander at the last stage of the cooking process. Coriander, according to Chinese nutrition is the best food combination for black beans.
- 2 cups dried black beans, soaked in cold water overnight proportion 1:4 ( 1 cup of beans to 4 cups of water)
- 1 litre water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Fresh Coriander leaves or ¼ fresh fennel
- Sea salt
- Firstly I check the seeds and discard the ones that are not very good.
- Wash the dry beans and then soak for 8-12 hours or overnight before cooking.
- Discard the water.
- Put the beans and clean water into the pressure cooker without the lid and let them cook for 20 minutes, until boiled. Drain and rinse the black beans.
- Put the beans back into the pressure cooker and add clean hot water. Seal the pressure cooker with the lid and cook on a high heat until steam starts to escape. Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes until the beans are soft.
- Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the onion and garlic for 4-5 min or until soften.
- Scoop 1 ladle full of beans and liquid to the hot frying pan and deglaze the pan by mixing together with the onion and garlic for one minute.
- Pour the mixture back into the remainder of the beans in the pressure cooker.
- Add the bay leaves, fennel or coriander leaves to the beans and let them simmer for a further 20 minutes, without the lid, or until the beans are soft and the liquid has the consistency of a thick liquid. If you like a thinner liquid, add more hot water.
- Remove the bay and coriander leaves or fennel and season with salt.
- Serve the beans straightaway as an accompaniment to a rice or meat dish.
- Serve with: Rice, orange, green vegetables or meat
- Equipment: Pressure cooker – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Tips: If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, cook the beans in a heavy deep saucepan for 2-3 hours; topping up with boiling water if needed.