October 1, 2011

White Beans Stew with Vermicelli Rice.

As usual, you need the conditions here - if you try one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry persons. Let the Goodness circulate !

Tonight's recipe is very easy to prepare. White Beans Stew or "Fasulia Bayda bil lahmeh" in Arabic - roughly the equivalent of a chili con carne or your regular baked beans except it has meat and does not have this sweet tinge to it. Some people use pieces of lamb or beef when preparing the bean stew, I use neither. I opt for lean minced beef as it is much faster to cook and I find it tastier.

Traditionally one uses dried white beans as opposed to canned. If you do opt for that, you need to soak them overnight and boil them till tender. I chose canned - again because it's faster.

So for two people you will need the following :

- 250 grms of lean minced beef (you can always buy your regular mince but I like lean)
- about 500 grms = 2 medium tins of canned white beans (NOT in any sauce)
- 6/7 stalks of fresh coriander/cilantro or parsley - minced
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced.
- 1 large ripe tomato cut in small pieces
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- 1 beef stock cube
- 2 flat tbs of tomato paste (see below for color check)
- about 1 to 1 1/2 standard cup (not mug) of boiled water
- and the following spices for the Keema i.e for the minced meat preparation:
* 1/4 tsp mixed spices (allspice)
* 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
* a dash of sweet paprika
* a dash of Curcuma/ Turmeric
* pepper and salt (if you're using beef cube stock it's probably salty already)

the secret of this bean stew is in the Keema - ie the minced meat mix.

- heat the oil and fry your garlic and onion until tender brown
- add your minced meat (I wash mine and leave it to drain)
- add all the spices above
- leave to cook well until the meat is brownish. This is important otherwise minced meat tastes like gum and is chewy. You need to cook it well first before adding the rest.
- once the meat is cooked, add the pieces of fresh tomato + cilantro or parsley
- leave it to simmer for a about 5 mn on a medium heat
- rinse your canned beans in cold water, drain well and add to the keema mix it and leave for a few more minutes
- finally dilute tomato paste and beef stock in boiling water, pour over the beans and meat, mix well and let it boil once, covered and let it cook gently over a low fire until all the flavors are absorbed. Should not take more than 7 to 10 mn.
- make sure the stew is not too liquid nor too thick. And its color should be a healthy red, not burgundy (too much tomato paste) and not orange (too little tomato paste)

If you're a vegetarian - skip the meat part, add the beans then the spices and substitute beef stock with vegetable stock

This cooks fairly fast so you need to have your vermicelli rice "riz bil sha'riya" ready.

Vermicelli rice preparation :

- 1 1/2 cup of Basmati rice, thoroughly washed in cold water
- one big handful of vermicelli pasta
- approx one tbs of cooking oil
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Heat the oil well and put the vermicelli until they are golden brown. Be careful because vermicellis burn quickly.
add your drained rice and salt
mix well
add the boiling water.

Let it boil once only and leave to simmer covered on a VERY LOW fire until all liquid is absorbed.

Serve with the hot beans stew.

Bon appétit or Sahtein in Arabic.