Flavors: Black Bean Chili with Saffron Rice and Papaya Guacamole

Black Bean Chilli (01) by MeetaK

This is not any ordinary rice and beans dish. It looks like it at first sight, but there is a whole lot of excellent flavor hidden below each dish.

Although my family and I eat meat, if you looked at our meal plan for an entire week, I would say it is 75 - 80% vegetarian. Yes, I do believe that eating vegetarian is healthier and keeps you fitter. I do not need a study to tell me I am right or wrong because I see the effects it has on my family.

The last 12 months I have been consciously cooking more vegetarian food, at times even dabbling into vegan meals and I see the results. My husband says he feels better – more energy and simply “lighter”. I see exuberance in Soeren’s face and his high spirits are all signs that show me, the slight change in our diets is working for the positive. Personally, I have lost a bit of weight, despite all the desserts I make and hardly visiting the gym (don’t ask!). I feel my skin glow and energized throughout the day.

So why have we not decided to turn 100% vegetarian? Well simply because we enjoy seafood and poultry. I also believe within limits, the “right” kind of meats adds to a healthy diet. We occasionally each beef and hardly any pork, because there is nothing like a good thick steak from time to time.

Cooking a vegetarian meal is not challenging at all. I have been enjoying experimenting with nutrition, flavors and ingredients to make sure that the vegetarian meals I serve are fun, healthy and delectable.

All three of us really love chili con carne. A spicy stew Tex-Mex stew made of ground beef, tomatoes and spices. So, I took on a challenge to experiment with a vegetarian version of the chili. I did try vegetarian “crumbles” made of soya protein. They tasted good but it was an easy trade – crumbles instead of beef. I wanted to work on the recipe more. I consulted a few other recipes in books, on the web and discussed it with a few old chefs of the trade.

The final outcome is so fantastic that I would not even say it is based on the original chili. I used dried black beans for this chili. Black beans originate from Mexico and taste light and a tad bit sweeter than other beans. Great for a chili. It’s a perfect dish in itself. Paired with saffron rice and a papaya salsa, it’s like the threesome was just meant to be. Like I said – a lot more than Beans & Rice!

Interesting Reads:

Printable version of recipe here.

Black Bean Chilli (03) by MeetaK

For the Black Bean Chili
200g black beans, soaked overnight
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
450ml canned cocktail tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt and Pepper

For the Saffron Rice
250g Basmati rice, washed
1 teaspoon saffron strands
1/2 lime, zest and juice
2 tablespoons Ghee or clarified butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Papaya Guacamole

Black Bean Chilli Papaya Guacamole (01) by MeetaK

240g papaya, cubed
1/2 red chili, finely chopped
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper


For the Black Bean Chili

Either using a pressure cooker or a pot with water, cook the beans until soft.

In a separate saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until transparent. Add the spices - cumin, paprika, bay leaf, and chili flakes, and continue to sauté for a another minute or so.

Pour in the cocktail tomatoes with juice, salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to simmer for approx. 10 minutes until reduced, then add the beans. Simmer for a further 15 minutes. Finally drizzle with lime juice.

For the Saffron Rice

Black Bean Chilli (04) by MeetaK

In a large saucepan bring approx. 600 ml water with salt, saffron strands and lime juice and zest to a rolling boil. Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a heavy pan heat the ghee and add the rice. Cook for a good minute, then pour in the saffron water and bring to a boil. Covered, simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

For the Papaya Guacamole

Using the back of a fork gently mash the papaya cubes. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in small individual bowls.


There are a lot of flavors coming together here, but they all harmonize so perfectly with each other. The entire meal leans very heavily on the Mexican cuisine with a hint of Indian aromas. We loved the slight sharp chili with the fruity papaya guacamole. It's a fantastic alternative to the regular chili for sure.

More Mexican fiestas on WFLH:

DSC02737 Tuna Tacos
DSC_0076 Chiles Rellenos
Quesadilla04 Cheese Quesadillas with Two Salsas


I'd like to send this one over to Culinary Bazaar who is celebrating the Mexican cuisine. Hope you like this one DK!

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. awesome mexican cuisine meeta...love the black bean chilli!!must have tatsted gr8 with saffron rice!!will give this one a try next weekend and let u know:)..

  2. the papaya guacamole is simply brilliant!!!

  3. You know I can get lost in your photos Meeta. Love the look and sound of this black bean chili! And with saffron rice how could it miss!

  4. I loved the papaya gaucamole the most!!! how innovative meeta! and I agree, veggie food does keep you more alert:) the black bean chilli looks inviting!

  5. You are so right, there IS an lot of flavors hidden in there and it looks so appetizing to me.

  6. SO glad to read that you and your husband are reaping the benefits of vegetarian food!! Fabulous!!

    I'm OBSESSED with guacamole; but that papaya guacamole??? I think that just became my NEW obsession, haha. Yum!

  7. I think this is a very interesting place to take both beans and rice AND chili. I tend to be a "where's the beef" kind of guy, but this looks really good! I also dig the papaya--that looks wonderful

  8. papaya guacamole?! thats absolutely fabulous. i detest avocado and this would be amazing! :) thanks!

  9. Whenever I make a meal like this, I often end up combining all of the leftovers into one pot and making soup!

  10. I can live off black beans: soup, chili, just cooked with onion and cumin...for days! My mother in law makes an artichoke relish to top them with but I like the idea of the papaya relish.

  11. The papaya guacamole is a smart idea!

  12. Papaya guacamole sounds interesting.
    I always have some black beans and chickpeas on hand. The pictures are lovely as always!

  13. Wow, that is an amazing spread... I am not ready to give up my meat and fish, but once in a while I can have a meal like this :)

  14. Hi meeta, have been loving your recipes. This seems yet another of your mouthwatering delights. Have a surprise for you at my blog. Do visit.

  15. This sounds like a really tasty meal. I was just thinking about a papaya guacamole the other day.

  16. What a fantastic meal. As a vegetarian who enjoys cooking, I certainly understand the pleasures of vegetarian foods. I am especially intrigued by your papaya guacamole!

  17. I am sure you will all love the papaya guacamole - it really is a perfect twist of sweet and spicy. It comes so well together with the beans. Thanks so much for all your thoughts and hope you have fun trying this out!

  18. This recipe looks and sounds very tasty, desireable and EASY. Will want to make it sometime


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