The instruction here for a 1-inch piece of tamarind pulp is based on the cake form of the dried pulp sold in every Indian and Asian grocery here in North America.
Spicy tamarind black beans
1 cup dried black beans
1-inch piece tamarind pulp
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 fresh cayenne peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
large handful fresh parsley, trimmed
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Rinse the black beans under cold running water and soak overnight in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. The next day, drain and rinse the beans, then place in a medium saucepan and add 2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender but not falling apart.
Meanwhile, prepare the tamarind and roast the first portion of ground cumin. Soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of very hot water for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Strain the liquid into a bowl with a fine-meshed strainer, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of the tamarind pulp. Discard the pulp and set aside the liquid.
For the roasted ground cumin, heat a small frying pan over medium-low heat. When hot, toss in the 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin and dry roast for 5-10 minutes, stirring or tossing occasionally, until the spice darkens a couple of shades and releases a smoky aroma. Remove from heat and set aside the cumin. Wipe the pan dry with a damp cloth and set aside.
When the beans have cooked to a tender but firm shape, drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the beans to the pan with the reserved cooking liquid and add the tamarind liquid. Cover and continue to simmer.
Now put the frying pan back on the stove and heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, toss in the onions and fry, stirring frequently, until they turn brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the pan. Stir in the unroasted ground cumin, turmeric and cayenne to coat the vegetables, then add the tomato and cayenne peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until the tomato has softened and the oil begins separating from the vegetables.
Spoon the fried vegetables into the beans and stir in the roasted ground cumin, garam masala, and half the parsley. Cover the pan again and let the mixture gently simmer at low heat for several minutes to let the flavours blend. Stir in salt to taste.
Serve in bowls garnished with the remaining parsley. Serves 4.