#CookforSyria: Black-eyed beans with chard and green herb smash

#CookForSyria is an amazing nation-wide fundraising initiative curated by Clerkenwell Boy and SUITCASE Magazine. The month-long campaign is all about Syrian cuisine and aims to encourage everyone from top chefs to people at home to cook and raise money in aid of UNICEF’s Syria Relief fund.

The world has become such a small place and we share so much, from food to music and film. I got involved because I really feel there is a sense of sharing that food brings – an intuitive and tactile way of communicating and of sharing our humanity. I want to help highlight, celebrate and share that humanity and to make sure we have got the backs of not only the humans in our day to day lives but of every human on this planet. As a mother and a human I want every child on this planet to be safe and fed. #CookForSyria is a joyous step in that direction.

The recipe below is included in a book which is now available for preorder. All the recipes, photography and design have been donated, and there will contributions from everyone from Jamie Oliver to Yottam Ottolenghi, Skye Gyngell to the Hemsleys. It’s a seriously delicious present and I know I will be buying several copies this Christmas.

This dish is not a classic Syrian recipe but one that takes inspiration from the classic and simple Syrian bean stews. The beans are cooked simply and in keeping with tradition with tomatoes, chilli and spices, cinnamon and nutmeg both used in Syrian kitchens. Swiss chard is often found in in Syrian cooking and I shred this add this at the end to add some crunch and freshness, if you can find rainbow chard all the better as you’ll have all the sweet shop colours. The finshed stew is freshened up with a herb and walnut smash, using verdant green herbs and walnuts to make a amazing flabour packed green herb smash to spopon over and crown the finished stew.


1 leek
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
a good pinch of chilli powder or chopped dried chilli
2 × 400g tins of black-eyed beans
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder, or 1⁄2 a stock cube
250ml of passata
a good grating of nutmeg
½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1⁄2 an unwaxed lemon
200g bunch of Swiss or rainbow chard or greens of your choice

A small bunch of fresh coriander
A small bunch of fresh parsley
2 green chillies
2 cloves of garlic
30g shelled walnuts
1 tablespoon runny honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons good olive oil
the juice of 1⁄2 a lemon

Get all your ingredients together. Put a large saucepan on the heat.

Wash and finely slice the leek. Add to the saucepan with a tablespoon 
of coconut or olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes until soft and sweet.

Finely slice the garlic and add to the pan with the chilli powder or dried 
chilli and cook for a couple of minutes, until the garlic is beginning to brown. Add the black-eyed beans with their liquid, the stock powder or cube, 200ml hot water and the passata and bring to a simmer. Grate in the nutmeg and add the cinnamon, squeeze in the juice of half the lemon, add the squeezed lemon half to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the chard stalks. Finely slice the stalks and add them to the pan, then finely shred the leaves and put to one side.

Put all the ingredients for the herb smash into a food processor, squeeze 
in the juice of the other half of the lemon and blitz until you have a smooth grassy paste. Season well with salt and pepper.

Once the black beans are soft and flavourful and the liquid has reduced to a thick soup-like consistency, stir in the chard leaves, season well with salt and pepper and leave to cook for a couple of minutes. Scoop into deep bowls and spoon over the herb smash. If you’re really hungry, some rice or flatbread would go well.

Image: Katie Wilson

Posted: 21.11.16 14 Comments


Posted by Brighde at 11:54 on the 16.09.17

What is the kettle water for? X

Posted by maria pont at 11:00 on the 18.11.17

my daughter cooked this the other day. It was left for a few days to infuse and I can honestly say it was one of the best tastes ever.

Posted by Anna at 8:49 on the 20.11.17

Thanks so much Maria. So pleased you enjoyed.

Posted by cathy Sturrock at 5:45 on the 11.01.18

Fed to my non vegan family tonight – everyone said it was absolutely delicious. Served with rice or Tortillas and avocados. N. B. Didn’t include oil in cooking.

Posted by Ali Clifford at 7:43 on the 25.01.18

Oh my word – thank you to Catherine Frawley for introducing me to you and to this dish; 13yo and I just made it together – he had a fried egg with his and we swapped out the green chillis for mild red ones… amazeballs! Thank you – Ali @incredibusy

Posted by Matt at 12:54 on the 13.05.18

This is amazing. So easy, comforting, and delicious. A new family staple.

Posted by Ros Belford at 1:51 on the 07.06.18

Incredible dish — and the first time ever I have loved black-eyed beans. Their chalky texture suits this dish perfectly — and the herb smash lifts it to heaven. I used ground sweet cinnamon which seemed to have even more depth, and I slightly increased the amount of Kashmir chilli, and I’ve done it with kale as well as chard…Also very good with roast almonds in the herb smash!!

Posted by Anna at 8:56 on the 12.06.18

so pleased you enjoyed, Ros. Thanks for such kind words

Posted by Darya at 4:31 on the 10.07.18

I LOVE this dish but my supermarket no longer stocks black-eyed beans in cans. Would you be able to advise the quantity of dried black-eyed beans (and how much of the cooking water I should use) instead? Thanks so much!

Posted by Celeste Dodwell at 10:57 on the 08.04.19

Absolutely delicious and so simple and cost effective to make! Love it! A new staple for sure!

Posted by Lise at 11:35 on the 17.05.19

Made it with black beans by mistake, but it was delicious & actually prefer the dish with this bean having tried both.

Posted by Molly at 10:48 on the 02.07.19

Just made this tonight, everyone loved it!! Cooked the beans from scratch and used some tomato sauce because I was too lazy to make proper passata, but still turned out so well!

Posted by Richard at 5:38 on the 03.07.19

Hey FYI the passata is missing from the recipe in your book! Wondered why mine looked a bit anemic:)

Posted by Nathalie at 1:37 on the 25.09.19

What a delicious dish!
The beans are wonderful and the green herb topping brings it all to another level.
Thank you Anna.
You inspire me every day.

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