Can you put black beans in curry? Absolutely! This is the best black bean curry recipe, packed with flavor and naturally vegan, gluten free, and dairy free. Black beans (AKA black turtle beans or karuppu kaaramani in India), are a readily available high protein vegan food you can eat daily. You’ll love curried black beans as an Indian restaurant-style meal; it's delicious!
Vegan curry recipes have been a part of my life for a long time, and I’ve made many variations of these curry beans. For example, one of my earliest renditions of this recipe used chana or chickpeas. I’ve also made this tomato based curry sauce with aubergine (AKA eggplant).
Sometimes I’ll make this black bean vegetable curry creamy with a little coconut cream or coconut milk. Or I’ll sweeten things up with some chopped mango or cooked sweet potato.
If you only have dried black beans, no worries, you can still make this recipe. After soaking and cooking the beans, measure out 1¾ cups cooked black beans for each can of black beans in this recipe.
You could take things in another direction entirely by adding vegetable broth to make black bean curry soup. Throw in some mushrooms, spinach, or whatever other plant based foods strike your fancy. There are truly endless flavor combinations and dishes you can make with this easy curry base.
⭐ Black Bean Curry Benefits
Why make this vegan black bean curry? For me it’s all about flavor, and a few of my favorite South Indian recipes served as inspiration here. Here are a few other reasons to love this recipe:
- Fast: You can have this homemade vegan curry in under an hour. Using canned beans in curry saves a lot of time!
- Spicy or Mild: I like to make spicy black bean curry with a bit of cayenne. If you can’t take the heat, it’s easy to skip it and make things mild.
- Inexpensive: This recipe is packed with cheap pantry ingredients and spices you may already have on hand. Vegetarian curry can be an inexpensive dish when made with low cost legumes.
- Vegan: This is a vegan bean curry, so our vegetarian friends and family can enjoy it too. This recipe is proof that you don’t need expensive vegan fake meats and cheese to make something tasty. It’s also a gluten free black bean curry.
- Protein: Legumes are the best whole food plant based sources of protein, and this recipe is packed with them. If you serve this black bean curry with rice (highly recommended!), you’re getting complete protein.
- Delicious: I think you’re going to be surprised how easy it is to replicate the delicious flavors of Indian take out at home. This recipe is wonderful for family dinners, and it’s special enough to serve to guests.
🥣 Black Bean Curry Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make curry with canned black beans:
- Canned black beans
- Thinly sliced onions
- Vegan butter
- Olive oil
- Canned tomato sauce
- Garlic cloves
- Ginger powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Large green pepper
Specific quantities of ingredients are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
I’ve made my own Indian curry spice blend instead of using store bought curry powder. If you’d like to substitute the spices for curry powder from the store, you are welcome to do so. Please note that this may modify how hot and spicy the recipe turns out.
Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is my secret ingredient in my Indian-inspired dishes. If you can’t find it locally, it’s easy to get it online. I recommend adding the methi even if you use store curry powder.
Use a vegan stick butter for this recipe, such as the ones offered by Miyokos, Earth Balance, or Country Crock Plant Butter. These are easy to find in many major US grocery stores. You can experiment with substituting the vegan butter for coconut oil if you’d like a less processed option.
The only pieces of kitchen equipment you need for this recipe are a large Dutch oven and a good knife. IMVHO, these are two things I think should be in any well-equipped kitchen.
🔪 How to Make Black Bean Curry
It's a good idea to practice mise en place with this recipe, which means prepping all of the ingredients before cooking.
Drain the black beans and cut the onions in half and then into thin half-moons. Seed the green pepper and chop it into ½-inch dice (1.27 cm). Mince the garlic cloves.
Melt the butter in the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop. Saute the onions in the butter and oil mixture over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. You want them to become softened and translucent, with minimal browning.
Add the tomato sauce, garlic, turmeric, cumin, allspice, methi, ginger, and cayenne to the pot. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the drained beans and chopped bell pepper to the pot and heat an additional 5-10 minutes. You can add salt here if necessary (it should not be if you’re using canned beans).
To allow the flavors more time to meld, add ½ cup of water to the pot and cover it. Let it simmer for 15-30 minutes over medium-low heat. (If the peppers have softened enough and you are short on time, you can skip this step.)
Serve the curry over rice or with another grain (more serving tips below). I’ve garnished this curry dish with a little parsley in the photos.
🌡️ How to Store Black Bean Curry
You can keep leftover black bean curry in fridge for up to 3-4 days. Cover it with plastic wrap or use a lidded container so it does not dry out. Reheat this vegan bean curry in the microwave or on the stovetop.
This black bean curry recipe also freezes well. Allow to thaw in the fridge for 48 hours before reheating.
🍛 What to Serve with Black Bean Curry
My favorite side dish for curry with black beans is basmati rice. Here are a few more side dishes for black bean curry:
- Plain Costco cauliflower rice
- Fresh garden salad
- Plain yogurt (try this Instant Pot almond milk yogurt)
📋 Black Bean Curry Calories
How many calories in black bean curry? One serving of this curried black beans Indian recipe has 417 calories, 32.8 grams net carbs, and 15.3 grams protein. This nutrition information does not include side dishes, such as rice or naan bread.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 2 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). After adding a side of rice or flatbread, black bean curry makes a nice moderate calorie meal.
If you’ve been trying to include more inexpensive canned beans in your diet, curry is a delish way to do it. On the downside, all of the spices, tomatoes, and onions here may aggravate heartburn if you are prone to it.
Are black turtle beans good for you?
Black turtle beans are a healthy food, in the sense that they provide a whole foods source of nutrition. They are high in fiber and a great source of plant based protein. Unless you are on a low carb diet, or have another similar diet restriction, IMHO black beans are a healthy choice.
Will black beans make you fat?
It is the intake of excess calories (relative to your needs) consistently over time that promotes weight gain, not a particular food. Many people have lost weight without removing black beans from their diets. Others (particularly those using low carb and keto diets) have lost weight without including black beans.
That said, one thing to know about black beans and other legumes is they are lean proteins but relatively high in carbs. Animal based lean proteins often provide more protein per calorie than legumes because they are low carb.
In other words, you get less filling protein by calorie with black beans than you do with skinless chicken breast or tuna. If you find protein particularly satiating, you may find you need to eat more calories of beans to feel full compared to animal-based lean proteins. The filling fiber content of beans may help offset the difference, but some individuals may find it’s not enough.
What bean is healthiest?
I don’t love comparative questions like these, because ideally a person is including a variety of healthy beans in the diet. If I *had* to choose one, I’d probably pick soybeans (including black soy beans).
Unlike many beans, soy beans are low carb and a complete protein. Their relatively neutral flavor makes them a welcome addition in a wide variety of dishes.
No, canned beans do not have to be cooked. Canned beans are safe to eat straight from the can because they have been previously cooked. They’re the ultimate protein-rich convenience food!
You can make this a slow cooker black bean curry recipe if you’d prefer. After softening the onions in butter and oil on the stovetop, put everything in the crock pot (including the water). Give it a good stir, and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
You can make pressure cooker black beans. However, the total cooking time will depend on your elevation, the hardness of your water, and how old your beans are. Dried black beans take anywhere from 20-60 minutes to cook under high pressure in an Instant Pot.
What we might think of as a Chinese black bean curry is actually a dish made with Chinese black bean sauce or Chinese black bean paste. This is a strongly flavored sauce made with fermented black beans and often garlic and chilis. Here is a delicious-sounding beef in black bean sauce recipe from BBC Good Food.
Yes, kidney beans are an excellent substitute for black beans. I often use the two interchangeably in recipes for soups, stews, chili, casseroles, and curries. Both are packed with plant-based protein and heart-healthy fiber.
👩🏻🍳 Other Recipes Using Canned Black Beans
Need more easy canned black bean recipe ideas? After you make this vegan bean curry, here’s what to make next:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Black Bean Curry Recipe (Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
- 2 cans black beans 15 ounces/425 grams each
- 2½ medium onions 1 lb/454 grams
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces canned tomato sauce (227 grams)
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons methi
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 large green pepper 9½ ounces/269 grams
- ½ cup water
- Rinse and drain the black beans. Cut the onions in half and then into thin half-moons. Seed the green pepper and chop it into ½-inch dice (1.27 cm). Mince the garlic cloves.
- Melt the butter in the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop. Saute the onions in the butter and oil mixture over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. You want them to become softened and translucent, with minimal browning.
- Add the tomato sauce, garlic, turmeric, methi, cumin, allspice, ginger, and cayenne to the pot. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the drained beans and chopped bell pepper and heat an additional 5-10 minutes. You can add salt here if necessary (it should not be if you’re using canned beans).
- To allow the flavors more time to meld, add ½ cup of water to the pot and cover it. Let it simmer for 15-30 minutes over medium-low heat. (If the peppers have softened enough and you are short on time, you can skip this step.)
- Serve the curry over rice or with another grain. Enjoy!