As a meze or a main, barbunya pilaki, is a dish that screams summer: The sight of marbled pink and white fresh cranberry or borlotti beans in the local pazar is eye-catching and a pleasant reminder of the abundance and variety of produce available here in Turkey during the summer months.
Pilaki refers to a method of one-pot cooking using a base of tomatoes, onions, garlic and lemon. Carrots and potatoes are often included along with a little sugar which brings the dish together very well. Pilakis can be made with fish, seafood, dried beans or with fresh such as this barbunya version.
Popular in Mehannes (Meze houses) but also as a main at home the dish concentrates on the taste of the beans and vegetables. It’s a light, nutty and sweet-tasting stew, seasoned only with a little basil and pepper.
To make the same dish in the winter months, simply substitute the beans for dried – kuru barbunya which have been soaked from the night before and increase the cooking time a little. Alternatively ıf you have difficultly finding them you can use a different variety of dried bean.
1 Kg Fresh Borlotti / Cranberry beans
Jolly good glue of Olive oil
1 Large Onion, diced
2 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Large Carrot, diced
1 Medium Potato, diced (Optional)
1 Sweet green pepper, diced
1 Sweet red pepper, diced
1 (Heaped) Teaspoon Tomato paste (Domates salçası)
1/2 Teaspoon Dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pul biber / Aleppo pepper flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar or honey
400 Ml /2 ‘Su’ glasses) Hot water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Remove the beans from their pods.
Heat a little oil in a saucepan (one that has a lid) and fry the onions on low until softened and glossy, add the garlic and allow it to also soften but not brown.
Fry the vegetables for a few minutes allowing them to also soften add the carrot and potato (if using) and fry gently, enough to slightly brown the edges, these crisped edges offer an extra sweet tone to the nutty beans.
Use the spoon to create a well in the centre of the frying pan and if the olive oil has been soaked up by the vegetables completely add a dribble into this well.
Add the tomato paste into the oil and stir until it begins to loosen.
Blend the herbs, lemon and sugar into the salça and then mix this around the saucepan coating all the vegetables.
Pour the hot water into the pan and stir.
Mix in the beans and cover the saucepan.
Cook on medium heat for around 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are softened but are still have a little bite.
For an authentic Turkish dish, allow the beans to cool to room temperature and serve with a good glug of olive oil and a further squeeze of lemon juice.
Barbunya is often served with rice and turşu (pickles or food served in sour juice)