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Mexican Refried Beans

The mashed potatoes of Mexican cuisine, refried beans are a versatile, addictive, and delicious side dish.  It is a relatively simple dish where you can choose exactly how you want to make them, whether chunky or smooth, the type of oil and beans used, etc.  Pinto beans are the most common choice for refried beans although other bean varieties such as black beans are also used.  At its essence, refried beans are just a really flavorful bean purée, and while pintos and black beans are the most common choices, there’s no reason this basic method couldn’t work with any bean. Other beans, like chickpeas and cannellini, may not make a particularly authentic-tasting plate of refried beans, but they’d still be totally delicious.  This delicious dish can be used as one of the components of Mexican Tostadas.  Also see the recipe for Home-made Baked Beans contributed by Carolié de Koster.

1 x 410 g tin baked beans in tomato sauce or pinto or black beans
30 g/ml butter or bacon drippings
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic crushed or 2,5 ml garlic and herb seasoning
pinch chilli powder or cayenne pepper (to taste)

  1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and cook while mashing with a potato masher until a thick paste is obtained. 
  2. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the paste becomes fairly dry.


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Hummus (Chickpea Paté)

Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.  As an appetizer and dip, hummus is scooped with flatbread, such as pita. Garnishes include chopped tomato,cucumber, coriander, parsley, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, olive oil, etc.

Hummus Day is an annual event celebrated on the third Thursday in May. The holiday started in 2012.

Also see the recipe for Falafel or chickpea croquette, which is another great recipe which uses chickpeas.

1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
30 ml olive oil
30 ml lemon juice
15 ml Tahini (sesame seed paste)
10 ml crushed garlic
5 ml ground cumin
good pinch salt

  1. Drain the chickpeas and transfer it to a food processor.
  2. Add the oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt and blend until thick and creamy.
  3. Add a little water if you want a different consistency.
  4. Transfer the hummus to a serving dish and serve with pita bread.

Makes ± 500 ml.


  • Replace the tahini paste with peanut butter.
  • Add 15 ml soy sauce or sweet chilli sauce (mild or hot) – or both!
  • Add 30 ml chopped peppadews (mild or hot) or chopped parsley or fresh coriander
  • Add 2.5 ml ground cumin.


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Green Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Experience the warmth and super nourishment when lentils are combined with typical vegetables to make this very easy and flavourful soup.

Prep time       20 minutes
Cook time      40 minutes
Yields              ± 12 servings

2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive or favourite vegetable oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled and finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) dried green lentils, rinsed
1 x 400 g tin peeled chopped tomatoes
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh or ½ tsp (2.5 ml) dried thyme
6 cups (1½ liter) water
1 tsp (5 ml) vegetable stock powder or 1 cube
2 tsp (10 ml) balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) chopped parsley
½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt or a little more if needed
ground black pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the vegetables for 10 minutes over moderate heat, stirring form time to time, to soften but not brown.
  2. Add the lentils, tomatoes, thyme, water and stock powder and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until all is just tender – not too soft.
  3. Add the vinegar, parsley, salt and pepper and heat through. Serve piping hot.


  • The soup will last up to 5 days refrigerated but may be frozen successfully as well.
  • The basic soup is vegetarian but for those who enjoy a meaty flavour, replace the vegetable stock with beef or chicken stock and add a few bacon rashers, cut into small bits, to the saucepan with the vegetables.
  • Roll up and finely shred a few washed spinach or kale leaves. Add to the soup shortly before serving and heat through. Serve when the spinach or kale has just softened but is still bright green.
  • The canned tomatoes can be replaced by 1½ cups (375 ml) peeled and chopped ripe red tomatoes. The lentils can be replaced by 1 x 400 g tin lentils (any colour), drained and added to the soup after vegetables have simmered for 15 minutes.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.


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Spicy Bean Stew

This is a most rewarding dish made with canned beans in tomato sauce.  Serve as a vegetarian meal with bread, rice or pasta, or as a vegetable side dish with braaied meat.  It can also be served as a salad.

30 ml sunflower or canola oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
10 ml crushed garlic
1 large green pepper, finely diced
5 ml curry powder
1 ml ground cinnamon
1 ml ground coriander
1 ml ground cumin
1 ml ground ginger
1 ml ground turmeric
5 ml salt
2 x 400 g tin baked beans in tomato sauce
1 large green apple, diced
50 ml raisins or sultanas
30 ml chutney
salt, pepper & vinegar to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.When the oil is hot, add the onion, green pepper, garlic and spices and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the baked beans, apple, raisins or sultanas and chutney and simmer partly covered for about 20 minutes or until the apple is cooked.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar (5 to 10 ml) and mix well.
  4. Serve piping hot, at room temperature or cold from the fridge.  

Note: this stew can be refrigerated for up to a week


  • Replace one of the tins of baked beans with a tin of drained chickpeas, lentils or other beans.
  • Replace the chutney with sweet thai chilli sauce.
  • Add finely chopped peppadews

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cooking Recipe Book p. 385.


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Cherry Tomato & Green Bean Salad With Lemon

I love to make this dish, which can be served either hot or cold, during the festive season, as it reminds me of Christmas trees and Christmas Baubles, but you can definitely enjoy it right through the year!

700 g green beans, topped and tailed
5 ml canola or coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced
zest of 1 large lemon, finely chopped
5 ml crushed garlic or garlic & herb seasoning
500 g cherry tomatoes
2.5 ml salt or seasoning of your choice
freshly ground black pepper

  1. Weigh the beans with an electronic kitchen scale to determine the weight if you don’t have the exact amount.
  2. Cut the beans into 3 cm sections and rinse the beans in a colander under running water.
  3. Steam the beans for 5 to 8 minutes in a steaming basket on the stove, in an electric steamer or in the microwave.  Be careful not to overcook the beans – they need to be firm and crisp.
  4. Rinse the beans under cold water and set it aside.
  5. Zest the lemon with a zester and chop the zest finely.  Set it aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, lemon zest, garlic or garlic and herb seasoning and stir-fry with a turner for a few minutes until tender.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for a further 2 to 3 minutes. The tomatoes must still be whole, i.e. remove the saucepan from the stove before they burst open.
  8. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  9. Add the green beans and heat through.
  10. Transfer the bean mixture to a serving dish and serve hot or at room temperature as a vegetable side dish.

8 to 10 servings.

Add slivers of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese to the beans when ready to serve.


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Chilli Beef Sauce With Chickpeas & Beans

A perfect example of how to transform a traditional meat sauce into a double healthy option. The sauce contains 5 vegetables plus 2 kinds of legumes to boost the fibre and protein. Serve with favourite cooked brown or basmati rice, couscous, boiled jacket potatoes or crusty bread and green salad.

Prep time       15 minutes
Cook time      1 hour
Yields              6 – 8 servings


2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 stick celery, sliced
1 red pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
½ tsp (2.5 ml) chilli powder (or more to taste)
½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground cumin
¼ tsp (1 ml) ground cinnamon
500 g lean minced beef
1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
1 x 400 g tin red kidney beans, drained
1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) water (or a little more if needed)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
ground black pepper

To serve and garnish
greenery such as coarsely chopped parsley, spring onion or fresh coriander
natural yoghurt (optional)
sliced, diced or mashed avocado (optional)

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the vegetables, chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon. Cook and stir over moderate heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the meat, stir to break up finely and continue cooking for 3 minutes more.
  3. Add the chickpeas, kidney beans, tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt and a good grinding of pepper and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer partly covered for about an hour, stirring from time to time to stop it catching. Add a little more water if needed.
  4. Place the yoghurt and avocado into small serving bowls. Adjust seasoning and serve the meat with side dishes as explained above.

The chickpeas or the beans can be replaced by 1 cup (250 ml) finely diced potato.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.

Chilli beef with chickpeas and beans


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Home-made Baked Beans

Many top chefs all over the world have their very own baked bean recipe!  Once you have made this at home, it will be hard to settle for the run of the mill cans.

Prep time:          5 minutes
Cook time:        40 minutes
Yields:           8 servings

15 ml olive or sunflower oil
125 ml coarsely chopped onion and / or leek
1 clove garlic, chopped
20 ml brown sugar
20 ml Worcestershire sauce
15 ml tomato paste
10 ml prepared mustard
1 x 400 g tin diced tomatoes or liquidised whole peeled tomatoes
1 x 400 g tin Cannelini beans, drained

Seasoning (optional to taste)
salt, white and ground black pepper,
dash of chili sauce or pinch chili powder

  1. Place the oil, onion or leeks and garlic into a saucepan and sautee gently until tender.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer partly covered for 30 minutes or until liquid has reduced to a good consistency.
  3. Adjust seasoning and serve warm or cold.
  4. Keep refrigerated up to a week.


  • Other kinds of beans or mixed beans can be cooked in the same way.
  • Mustard, a condiment with very little fat and sugar, can be enjoyed freely and is one of the main flavours for baked beans.


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Falafel (Chickpea Fritters)

Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or Fava beans.  Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food commonly served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread.  Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze platter.   Also see the recipe for Hummus (Chickpea Pate).

10 ml olive oil
30 ml spring onion, thinly sliced
5 ml crushed garlic
1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
10 ml ground cumin
30 ml parsley, finely chopped
10 ml lemon zest, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
fresh breadcrumbs (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a small pan.
  2. Fry the onion over a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for a further two minutes and remove from the heat.
  4. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and process it in a processor with the pulse action.  It should still be a little chunky. Transfer the mashed chickpeas to a mixing bowl.
  5. Add the sautéed onion and garlic and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add the cumin, parsley and lemon zest and mix well.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the egg and mix together.
  8. Add some breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet to roll into balls.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
  10. Divide the mixture into golf ball sized balls and place them on a baking tray greased with non-stick cooking spray.
  11. Place the baking tray in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  12. Remove the falafel from the fridge, brush with a little oil and bake for 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Turn the falafel occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  13. Serve the falafel by itself, or with pita bread and tahini or hummus.

Makes 15 to 20 depending on size.

The falafel can also be deep-fried in sunflower oil.

Falafel In Pita

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Aromatic Middle Eastern Lamb With Chickpeas & Polenta

Aromatic Middle Eastern lamb with chickpeas

This superb flavourful and nourishing dish is created by removing the pre-cooked meat from the bone before completing the dish.

Preparation time        20 minutes
Cooking time             1 ½ hours
Yields                         6 servings


  • Serve this dish with cooked polenta or prepared couscous and steamed green vegetables such as green beans or broccoli.
  • When available venison works as well with this recipe. To fry the meat use a little butter or olive oil for the venison does not have enough fat.
  • To turn the same dish into a Spanish version, add 1 tsp (5 ml) paprika, 500 ml shredded spinach and a few stoned olives at step 4 and serve with rice.

750 g lamb shoulder chops, excess fat trimmed and reserved
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 tsp (5 ml) beef stock powder

1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) chopped or crushed garlic (1 clove)
1 x 400g tin Mexican tomato sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
½ tsp (2 ml) cumin seeds (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
good pinch dried origanum
2 bay leaves
150 g canned and drained chickpeas ( ½ tin)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
a little cornflour if necessary
fresh rosemary, parsley or coriander to garnish

  1. Place the trimmed fat into a small saucepan and cook gently for 5 – 8 minutes, stirring to cook out a little fat to use for frying of the meat and making the sauce.
  2. Place the meat into an oven roasting pot and brown on all sides – adding a little of the fat if necessary. Add the water and stock powder, cover and cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender enough to be removed from the bone.
  3. Remove the meat, cool a short while, remove the bones and cut the meat into bite size portions.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan drippings and cook until tender.
  4. Pour off any excess fat and return the meat and all the remaining ingredients to the oven roasting pot.
  5. Cover and cook about 30 minutes more until done to taste.
  6. If necessary thicken the gravy with a little cornflour mixed with water.
  7. Dish up as preferred (see picture) and garnish with greenery as given above.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.


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Turmeric Chicken With Buttered Couscous

This is an easy-to-assemble chicken dish which tastes terrific and is well complemented by the texture of couscous.

30 ml sunflower or canola oil
1 kg chicken portions
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 ml crushed garlic
5 ml ground turmeric
5 ml chicken stock powder
250 ml water
1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
30 ml lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 ml cayenne pepper
2.5 ml salt
freshly ground black pepper
a little cake flour

250 g/300 ml couscous
350 ml boiling water
5 ml salt
10 ml olive oil
50 g/50 ml butter

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan that can also be used in the oven.
  2. Add the chicken, onion, garlic and turmeric and sauté over moderate heat, stirring from time to time, until golden all over and slightly browned.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, cover and cook at 180ºC for 1.5 to 2 hours or until the meat is quite tender.
  4. Adjust the seasoning and if necessary, to thicken the pan juices, add a little cake flour mixed with water and boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a suitable serving dish and keep warm until read to serve.
  6. Serve with couscous and vegetables.
  7. To make the couscous, place the couscous in a bowl and add the boiling water and salt.  Stir to mix well.
  8. Allow to stand for 5 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
  9. Add the oil and fluff the grains with a fork while mixing to get rid of any lumps.
  10. Add the butter and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute so that the butter can melt.
  11. Stir to mix and serve.

The chickpeas can be replaced with any canned beans, e.g. cannellini, borlotti, etc.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cooking Recipe Book p. 310.


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Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup

A smooth and creamy textured soup with a hint of spicy flavour. Adding the cream, sour cream or yoghurt gives richness to the soup but it is certainly not essential.

30 ml butter or margarine
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
125 ml yellow, red or brown lentils
2 litres water
10 ml chicken stock powder
500 g orange sweet potato, peeled and diced
Pinch each ground ginger, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and cinnamon
250 ml sour cream, yoghurt or cream (optional) salt and black pepper

To serve
Finely chopped parsley or snipped chives

  1. Place the butter or margarine, onion, garlic and lentils in a saucepan and saute gently, stirring from time to time for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the water, stock powder, sweet potato and spices and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Liquidize the mixture with a hand held blender or cool slightly and process in a food processor and return to the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the cream, sour cream or yoghurt if used, heat through and serve. Delicious!

6 to 8 servings.