Algerian Chili Beans

Algeria is one of the north african mediterranean countries that we have all heard of but seldom thought of as a tourist destination or as having a rich culinary culture! The truth is that Algerian cuisine, uses herbs in unique ways and combines them to uplift a simple dish. For the chilli lovers, this is a must! Serve with pita bread, or simple white rice.

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1 pound (2 cups) small navy beans, soaked
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 small dried red chillies, seeded
15 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs sweet paprika
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp ground cumin
6 ounces tomato paste, canned
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
7 cups water or vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp cayenne or to taste
20 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 1/2 tsp salt
10 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped
cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, optional


  • Soak the beans over night OR, for the quick-soak method, place the beans in a large soup pot and add 10 cups of hot water.  Bring them to a rolling boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans stand in the cooking water for at least 1 hour and preferably longer.
  • Chop the onion in brunoise
  • Seed the chilli
  • Mince the garlic with a garlic press
  • Coarsley chop the tomatoes
  • Finely chop the parsley and the cilantro

1.  Drain the beans. 

2. Place a large soup pot over medium high heat, heat the oil, and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until tender, for about 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Add the chillies, garlic, paprika, pepper, and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Stir in the tomatoes and 1 cup of the water or broth and bring to a boil.

6. Add the beans, the remaining 6 cups water or broth, the bay leaves, cayenne, and 10 of the parsley sprigs tied together with cotton string. Lower the heat to medium low, cover, and cook the beans until tender, 1 to 2 hours.

7. Before serving, discard the chillies, bay leaves, and tied parsley. Season with salt. Stir in the reserved minced parsley and cilantro. Serve hot with vinegar on the side, if you like.

*The older the beans, the longer they will take to cook.

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