17 November 2006

Red Kidney Beans: with mince, or in olive oil

Kıymalı Barbunya, veya Zeytinyagli Barbunya

Pulses/ legumes have a central place in Turkish kitchen, among these are the beans! In Turkey, white and borlotti bean varieties are common, while red kidney beans are less well-known. In Melbourne, red kidney beans are abundant, tinned or dried. I have gotten used to them over the years, and buy them more often than the whiter versions. This dish is typically made with roman or borlotti beans, I have just replaced them with red kidney beans.

I was surprised to find out that raw, undercooked red kidney beans can be toxic. So make sure you precook the beans well.

Turkish cook dried beans in two ways: 1. Olive oil; 2. with meat. The one in the photo is the meat version. I used mince, but it can easily be replaced by diced lamb. Although I prefer the olive oil version, the meat version was because it might have been more appealing for my six year-old daughter. I was wrong, but we enjoyed them with rice and yoghurt (there is often a dollop of natural yoghurt alongside Turkish dishes).

I cook 1 kilo of dried red kidney beans in advance, and freeze them in small portions. It is then a matter of defreezing them on the day of cooking. You can easily substitute tinned (canned) beans, less nutritious but practical and works well. Worth trying different brands, as some are tastier than others.

The recipe below is for the mince version. Stroll down for the olive oil variation. They taste quite different.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic (optional), diced
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper paste (optional)
1/2 cup of lamb minc, precooked (or diced lamb, if you prefer)
2 tomatoes, crushed (or 1/2 tin of tomatoes)
2 cups of precooked red kidney beans (or 1 large tin)
2 cups of water
salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried mint

Cook chopped onion in olive oil until lightly browned. Add garlic, stir. Add tomato and red pepper paste, stir until the onion is coated. Add precooked mince meat and tomatoes, stir until well-heated. Add red kidney beans with water. Add salt, pepper and mint. Put the lid ajar, and cook in low-medium heat until the beans are well-heated, and the sauce is boiling (about 20 mins).

Serve with rice and yoghurt. The rice in the photo is cooked with risi pasta.

Precooked mince allows for shorter cooking-time for the red kidney beans. I cook 1 kilo of mince meat, divide into portions, and place in the freezer. I use the portions for red kidney beans, other dishes and spaghetti bolognaise!

Red kidney beans in olive oil:
In the above recipe, increase the amount of olive oil to 6 tablespoons, dice a carrot, and add right after the onions. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar together with the salt. Omit the meat.

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