This easy-to-make black bean curry recipe uses only pantry staples for a quick Indian-inspired main course or side dish. Pair with basmati rice, warm naan, or it even makes a filling dish on its own. And it’s vegetarian and vegan.
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What Are Indian Black Beans
Although I love eating Indian food and I love cooking Indian recipes at home I am certainly not traditionally trained. I loved learning about Indian cuisine from all of the chefs I met while traveling in India, but I am certainly not a traditionalist.
This is how I came up with an Indian black beans recipe. I’ve eaten, and seen recipes for, rajma, which is made with red kidney beans, and black urad dahl, or black lentil curry.
I’ve seen a reference to urad dahl as a black beans Indian curry, but it’s actually made with lentils. I’ve even seen references to black rajma, which are a type of Indian black bean.
It got me thinking, though. If I can make a curry with red kidney beans and a curry with black lentils, then why can’t I use a lot of the same ingredients to cook a curry with black beans.
See some of our other Indian-inspired recipes:
Black Bean Masala
I used to be so intimidated by Indian cooking. The flavors seemed so complex. When we traveled to India we interviewed a lot of Indian chefs and toured some of the kitchens. I learned how many regional dishes there are in India too.
I also realized that it’s not hard to cook Indian-inspired dishes at home. For this black bean curry to be Indian style, I started with a lot of the spices used in a typical garam masala. The word masala really means spices, so really any blend of typical Indian spices can be used to flavor the black beans in this dish.
If you don’t have some of the individual spices included in this Indian bean dish then you can always just use a tablespoon of garam masala.
Using An Instant Pot For Indian Curry Recipes
I’ve always made Indian curries on the stovetop, normally in a dutch oven. Recently, though, I started adding them into my Instant Pot cooking rotation.
It’s super easy to make a bean curry on the stovetop with canned black beans. I wanted to use dried black beans for this recipe. Dried black beans are cheaper than canned and can last almost forever in the pantry.
By using an Instant Pot, there’s no need to soak the beans the night before. Just rinse, drain, and add them to the Instant Pot along with the spices. I also find that using dried beans in an Instant Pot recipe like this one means the beans hold their shape better than canned. They give a nice texture to the ultimate bean curry.
We have the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1. It has a six-quart capacity, which is more than enough to cook for two people or for a small group. There is also an 8-quart option for families. For this recipe, use the bean function or the pressure cook function.
Making Black Bean Curry With Pantry Staples
I am a big fan of using fresh ingredients whenever possible. I normally use diced onion, pressed garlic, and grated fresh ginger as the base for pretty much any Indian dish.
For this version, though, I used dried spices. One, I am trying to rely more on pantry staples where possible. Second, it makes this Instant Pot recipe even that much easier. Rather than taking the time to saute the fresh ingredients, using dried spices allows this recipe to be a little more like a dump and seal Instant Pot recipe.
That’s the thing about cooking in an Instant Pot. Sometimes you can just add all the ingredients (dump), close the pressure cooker, and turn it on (seal) – a dump and seal recipe.
I do find, though, that when I use fresh vegetables or seasonings or meat, I want to saute them first to seal in the flavor or to add some texture to the dish. This one, though, I made super easy.
Ingredients For This Black Bean Curry Recipe
I start with a base of coconut oil when making Indian blacks beans or any type of curry. If that’s not an option, then canola oil or any other vegetable oil is fine. You can buy coconut oil on Amazon here.
The spices for this Indian bean curry include garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger, ground cumin, and ground turmeric. You can also use garam masala in place of the cumin and turmeric.
Also add a bit of salt and a few bay leaves. Always remember to count the number of bay leaves you add so that you can remove them at the end. The bay leaves add a nice balance to soups and stews that might otherwise taste a bit flat.
When it comes to salt, don’t be afraid to use salt. It won’t make the dish taste salty, it just helps the flavors and the spices blend together and become more flavorful.
To keep this curry vegan, use vegetable broth. If you’re not a vegetarian, chicken broth also works fine. At the end, add coconut milk to make it a bit more creamy.
Also add either canned diced tomatoes or tomato sauce. The tomatoes add some needed acidity to the recipe. I like adding the tomatoes at the end so that the acid in the tomatoes doesn’t cook the beans too quickly. This can make them a bit mushy. If using tomato sauce, be sure to use plain pureed tomato sauce and not one flavored with spices.
Dried Black Beans
Any dried black beans are fine to use. Do a quick sort and inspection to remove any broken bits or other debris. Then, rinse them in cool water.
There is no need to soak them ahead of time. If you do soak them, I’ve provided adjusted bean cooking times below.
How To Make Indian Black Beans In An Instant Pot
There are a few tips on how to make this recipe depending on if you use coconut oil or olive oil.
Using Coconut Oil
If using coconut oil, use the saute function on the Instant Pot to warm the oil. Coconut oil is a solid and needs to be warmed to become a liquid. As soon as the oil liquifies, turn the Instant Pot off. Then add all of the spices and stir. I prefer to add the spices to the coconut oil to infuse the oil with the aroma and flavors of the spices. This just helps the entire dish become layered with flavor.
Then, add one cup of vegetable broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any seasoning left on the bottom of the pot. Add the bay leaves, the black beans, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Stir well. Seal the electric pressure cooker.
Using Canola or Vegetable Oil
Using canola oil is a little easier because the oil is already liquid. You can still warm the olive oil and add the seasoning like above, but it’s not necessary. To make this a true dump and seal Instant Pot recipe, add the canola oil, beans, vegetable broth, spices, and bay leaves. Stir everything well. Then, seal the electric pressure cooker.
Once the Instant Pot is sealed, select the pressure cook function and set the timer for 50 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to pressurize. If you soaked your beans overnight, set the time for 30 minutes instead. If you used canned beans, set the pressure cooker for 3 minutes and release the pressure for 5 minutes.
When the time is up, let the pot naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to manually release the pressure from the pot. Unseal the Instant Pot and carefully remove the lid away from your face.
Cooking Times For Indian Black Beans In An Instant Pot:
- Dry, unsoaked black beans: Pressure cook for 50 minutes, release for 10 minutes
- Dry, soaked black beans: Pressure cook for 30 minutes, release for 10
- Canned black beans: Pressure cook for 3 minutes, release for 5
Finishing The Indian Bean Curry And Serving
When you remove the lid, the pressure cooker will be on the warm function. Add the coconut cream and diced tomato and stir to warm. This should take only 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve warm topped with fresh cilantro or even a dollop of greek yogurt. The beans can be served over basmati rice or with fresh warm naan. We actually enjoyed these almost like an Indian black bean soup, without rice.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups of vegetable broth
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
- If using coconut oil, use the saute function on the Instant Pot to warm the oil. As soon as the oil liquefies, turn the Instant Pot off.
- Add all of the spices and stir.
- Add one cup of vegetable broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot.
- Add the bay leaves, the black beans, and the rest of the vegetable broth. Stir well.
- Seal the electric pressure cooker. Select the pressure cook function and set the timer for 50 minutes.
- When the time is up, let the pot naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to manually release the pressure from the pot.
- Unseal the Instant Pot and carefully remove the lid away from your face. The pressure cooker will be on the warm function.
- Add the coconut milk and tomato and stir to warm, about 2-3 minutes.
- One cup of dried beans becomes about three cups of cooked beans. With six cups of cooked beans this recipe can serve six people as a main course or eight servings as a side dish.
- The additional time listed above is the time for the electric pressure cooker to pressurize and then release the pressure.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 773mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 11gSugar: 4gProtein: 16g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
Modifications And Variations
Included above are the variations for using coconut oil or canola oil. This particular recipe uses pantry staples and seasoning. You can also use fresh garlic, onion, and ginger.
Use about four cloves of garlic pressed or minced, ½ of an onion diced small, and grated fresh ginger. Saute these fresh ingredients for 2-3 minutes in the warmed coconut oil or canola oil before adding in the spices.