Colombian Beans

16 Feb

This recipe is loosely based on the Colombian-Style Red Beans from Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan, though I made several small changes.  I’ve been intrigued about traveling to Colombia, and until I can actually go, I plan to make Colombian food!  So far I’ve made these beans and arepas (like really thick corn tortillas–heaven!  I’ll post about those some other day).  I made a special trip to my local Fiesta Supermarket, which sells anything Latin you can imagine.  Previously I had searched for the beans I needed for this dish, bola roja or cargamanto beans, which are both common in Colombian cooking, in several grocery stores.  However, Fiesta seems to be the only store in Austin that carries these beans, though they can also be ordered online.  I bought a bag of the Goya brand bola roja beans, and they are so beautiful!  And they are definitely bola roja (red ball)-shaped.  They are definitely more expensive than other varieties of red beans, but totally worth it, at least for the novelty factor.

I cooked my own beans for this, but if you are pressed for time use canned red beans for this recipe.  Beans can be cooked a day or two ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to complete the remaining steps.


8 oz. dry bola roja or cargamanto beans, or 2 cans of red beans, rinsed and drained (should be about 4 cups of cooked beans)

1-2 T olive oil

1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

3-4 cups vegetable broth or water

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper


To cook the beans:

Soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.  When ready to cook, drain and rinse the soaked beans.  Place in a medium to large pot, cover with water (about 5 or 6 cups of water).  Turn the burner on high and bring the beans to a boil.  Once the beans start to boil, turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let cook for about 2 hours.  Check occasionally to ensure there is enough water.  Beans are done once tender. 

To prepare the final dish

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the pepper, onion, garlic, and carrot.  Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the oregano, paprika, cumin, and then the beans and water or broth.  Add salt, about 1 tsp to start.  You can always add more later if needed.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down to medium low, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, taste and add salt if needed. 


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