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Stewed white beans (Frijoles blancos guisados)

Dried beans are a staple on Mexican tables for every meal. The cuisine uses a large variety of dried beans, including black beans, red beans of different types, white beans, black-eyed beans and fava beans. They are stewed, fried, refried, mashed and used in an infinite number of ways adding both texture and flavour to the dishes.

This is a simple and delicate dish. I have trouble finding white beans in India so I usually substitute black-eyed beans, they have a similar structure and taste profile. These beans were lovely, delicate in flavour and paired perfectly with the Chilli-seasoned chicken tacos I served them with. The beans had a lovely texture and the mild spices complimented the chicken which was bold. These beans are perfect as a side on any table.

Oaxaca al Gusto is a massive opus from Diana Kennedy on the cuisine of Oaxaca, Mexico. She has received both Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle and membership in the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to Mexican cuisine and her work in the region. This tome brings alive the cuisine, the culture and the people of the region. Oaxaca has been fondly referred to by chefs as the land of infinite cuisine, and Diana has published this exhaustive volume on this region. This volume can be considered as pedantic work or a coffee table book, but it loves in my kitchen with the recipes begging to be brought alive. This is a book for any serious chef.

For more recipes from the amazing cookbook, click here.


1 cup dried white or black-eyed beans, soaked in 5 cups of water overnight

1 small onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, sliced

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

4-5 tomatoes, minced

4 tablespoons cilantro, minced + additional for garnish

Salt, to taste

Rinse out the soaked beans and bring to a boil with the onions, garlic and salt. Scoop off the scum that floats to the surface and simmer for 40 minutes till the beans are cooked through and soft. The beans should be in a brothy soup.

While the beans are cooking, heat a frying pan with the oil. Add the onions and garlic and fry on low heat till they are soft and translucent, do not let them get any colour.

Add the spices, cloves, allspice and oregano and give a quick spin. Add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are soft and begin to break down for about 15 minutes. Add the cilantro and stir in. Take off the heat.

When the beans are cooked, add the tomato mix and stir in to mix well. Adjust water if needed. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes so the beans can absorb the spices. Mash gently with a potato masher to get a thicker stew.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

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