It is a bit funny with Turkish food, like this bean dish called “Barbunya”, turkish baked beans. Although it is oh so modern and very up-to-date that one might have politically correct meat-free days, and that it is almost a bit hip to try the vegan cuisine, it has actually worked in Turkey for years. Yes for almost centuries, there has been a tradition of using many vegetables and just a little meat in cooking. So there is really not so much new, trendy and abra-ca-dabra here.
Perhaps this is also why most dishes actually work really well. There isn’t used a lot of spices or weird ingredients to make the dishes taste. Almost the opposite. And preferably as few, simple and fresh ingredients as possible. And then it is dishes that is well-know. Dishes that have evolved over the past centuries (many Turkish dishes originate from the Ottoman cuisine, which started aprox. 500 years ago).
So it is things that have been tried, tested and fine-tuned so that the flavors stand out so clearly and simply in their entirety. And much of it completely without the use of meat.
Vegetarian or vegan food and no meat:
But the Turks do not live almost vegetarian from a holistic health perspective, but primarily from a pure economy one. Meat is really expensive in Turkey. As in crazy expensive if you compare with wages and European prices. So, of course, one has to find replacements that saturate and supply as many nutrients as meat. And this is where beans and lenses come in great style. (But offer a Turk a big steak and they will surely love it. Right father-in-law 😉).
Barbunya is one of the dishes, that I’m quite fond of – in fact, my whole family is quite happy with this bean dish (even my son, who is generally not very fond of beans). It is quite simple and consists of very few ingredients: beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. Easy right?
As you probably already have lured, I love dishes, that can be made in good time, last a few days and are used for a lot of dishes. And Barbunya is like this. It fits just fine whether you eat steak or fish or if you use it as lunch. But it really does apply to many of the dishes, that are used for the Turkish Meze. They are good independently and together with everything possible.
Turkish baked beans:
When I think of Barbunya, I think of it as the Turkish answer to the English “baked beans”. Beans which are “baked” (or cooked) in a slightly sweet tomato sauce. I think that describes it very well, because most people know baked beans.
You use some special beans for this dish. In Turkish they are just called “barbunya”, but elsewhere they are called borlotti beans. They must be either spotted or slightly brown in it, but pinto, kidney beans and chickpeas, for example, can also be used.
I always cook them myself, because I think they get the best taste. But you can also choose to use them from can. They just need to be in, for the last 5 minutes, while the dish is simmering, to avoid being mashed.
Start a day or two before:
Barbunya is really best, if you make it a day or two, before you need it. In this way, the taste can develope and you get the best result. But if you haven’t got the time, it will also do, so do not despair if you have started a little late.
The recipe for turkish baked beans is my way of making it. You will certainly experience many other variants in Turkey depending on the region and where you travel. But basically they are the same. Some use garlic, others do not. Some sprinkle a little lemon juice over eventually, as I do, others don’t.
But try it out – it’s not that difficult at all.
See this article in Danish/ Læs artiklen på dansk her
Barbunya is a typical part of a good turkish meze table, with a lot of small delicious dishes and reminds a lot of the English “Baked beans”.
- 350 gram Barbunya or Borlotti beans
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, chopped into small squares
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped into small pieces
- 400 gram beef tomato, chopped – or 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp sugar
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups water
- 1 lemon
- – maybe 1 potato, in small cubes
- a little italian parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
1: Soak the beans in water overnight (or at least for 8 hours)
2: Drain the water, add new in and cook the beans tenderly on middle heat till they are slightly undercooked. It takes about 25-30 minutes. Add a bay leaf to the water, while it is boiling. Drain the water when finished
3: Heat the oil and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes
4: Add the carrots and garlic (and possibly potatoes in) and let it cook for another couple of minutes.
5: Now add tomato, sugar, salt and pepper and mix well
6: Put the beans in together with the water and boil briefly. Put the lid over and then turn down the heat till low. It shouldsimmer gently for about 30 minutes (if you use beans from the can, the dish should only boil for about 5 minutes)
7: Let the dish cool at room temperature and put in the refrigerator, if it is to be used later. It must rest for min. 3-4 hours before use.
8: Put some lemon juice over or just a few slices next to it. Sprinkle slightly chopped parsley over if you like.
9: Server either cold or at room temperature for meze and lunch. Can also be served hot if you use barbunya as a main dish together with rice.