Not on being but on beans

frijolitos

Beaner is a derogatory term used against Mexicans and other hispanic people in the U.S. Maybe because I don’t live in the U.S. and I’ve never been called a beaner myself I find this word very amusing. Why? because, like other Mexicans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Dominicans, Brazilians, etc (the list is endless), I looove beans. Whether you think yourself too posh to admit it, if you are Mexican, you love beans. I cooked my refried bean recipe to feed the whole Satyananda Yoga Ashram in Australia and people went crazy about them. Oh boy, let’s reclaim the term beaner.

My friend Vidyadhara, a yogini from Monterrey, and myself were staying at the ashram in Oz, wondering if we could somehow sneak into the kitchen and cook some tasty Mexican. If you have ever spent time in ashrams you may very well know that one starts to crave all sorts of things, so it came as no surprise that Vidya and I found ourselves craving for beans. As we conveniently worked on cleaning the pantry, we discovered a huge bag of Turtle beans. I saw them and exclaimed: “Oy!!! these look pretty much like Mexican beans!” Vidya confirmed my suspicion and that’s how it all started. I became the ashram’s chef in the blink of an eye. I accompanied the dish with guacamole and Pico de Gallo, but for now, I will just show you how to cook beans, which are not only delicious but also a great source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and many phytonutrients. Wow, we didn’t know that being a beaner was such a healthy, veggie, cool and ashram-friendly quality after all.

1/2 Kilo of Turtle Beans (if you find pinto beans they are also great the recipe is the same). Washed and selected.

1 Tablespoon salt

1 Onion cut in half

1 Tablespoon of oil

2.5 to 3 L of water approximately

Remove stones, pieces of earth or beans that look a bit dodgy. Rinse your beans under water about four times until there is no more dirt on them. Note that the water may be slightly dyed but this is normal. Some people leave the beans to soak overnight. I prefer not to because they tend to increase in size and I like my beans small. I use a pressure cooker instead of a normal pot, so the process is faster. If you do not have a pressure cooker, I would definitely advise you to soak the beans overnight. Place your beans in a big pot or pressure cooker and fill the whole pot with water. Add the onion, salt and oil. Close the pot or  pressure cooker and let the beans boil for 1 hour. After the hour, open the pressure cooker (remember to only open the pressure cooker once there is no more steam coming out) to make sure there is still water inside. Your beans may be ready, check to see if they feel soft. If they are still hard and the water has evaporated, top up the pot with hot water, close the lid and let the beans boil for another 30 minutes to one hour. This really depends on your pot, pressure cooker and stove. If you are cooking your beans in a normal pot this may be a very lengthy process, you will have to check that there is water inside the pot at all times so that the beans don’t get burnt (yep this happens). A very dear cousin of mine who cooks the best beans in the world told me a secret: “never add cold water to the beans, always make sure the water that you add is hot”. I know I have not been very precise regarding the amount of water but there should always be about 4 fingers of water above the beans. Cooking the beans in a normal pot takes about 4 hours. For years I wondered why my beans were not as delicious as my mum’s until I saw her smashing some and then adding them to the rest.

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