Black Turtle Bean Curry with Butternut Squash

Black Turtle Bean Curry with Butternut Squash

These turtle beans are not typically seen in India, however like most other beans they are delicious with spices. The butternut sqush adds a sweet, creamy flavor and makes for strikingly beautiful presentation.


1 cup dry black beans

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup onion, minced

1 Tbsp ginger purée

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cracked coriander seeds

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 small butternut squash

1 tsp garlic, minced

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp plain yogurt

mint or cilantro sprigs, for garnish


  1.   Preheat the oven too 350F. Peel the butternut squash, then slice into thick wedges - you should end up with roughly 10-12 pieces. Toss with olive oil, minced garlic and salt. Spread the squash out on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 250F, remove the foil and continue cooking the squash for another 20 minutes. Set aside until the black bean curry is ready.

  2. Soak the beans in 3-4 cups water for 2-3 hours. Drain, then add another 3-4 cups water and bring to a boil. Skim off any residue that may rise to the top and discard. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until the beans are tender. Check on them every 15 minutes to ensure there is still enough water to cook them - if not, add more as needed. 

  3. While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small sautée pan until just shy of smoking, then add the cumin seeds - they will pop and sizzle. Immediately add the minced onions, lower the heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes until onions are a light golden brown.

  4. Add the black pepper, coriander and chili powder to the onion mixture and fry lightly for a few secons before adding to the beans. The entire mixture should come together as a thick stew - if there is too much liquid remove the lid from the pan and reduce as needed. 

Serves: 4


Notes and variations

  • When frying spices in oil, be careful not to have the heat too high or they will burn and turn bitter in flavor.

  • This recipe will work with most beans, like pinto, navy or red.

  • Substitute butternut squash for carrrots or turnips.

  • Both the beans and the sqush can be prepared a day or two in advance.

  • Canned black beans will work too - use 2 cans per recipe, and start at step 3.