Libyan Styled Borlotti Stew

beans 3 (2)

Serves 4 – 6


1 piece of lamb per person (optional)

1.5 lb of fresh borlotti beans or 2 cups canned or soaked overnight* 
olive oil
1 large onion cut into slices
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 heaping teaspoon Libyan Bharat*
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cumin seeds
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp of chopped cilantro


4 hand sized pieces of lamb (it should fit in the palm of your hand) Lamb is optional, it is still great without it just add a cup or two of vegetable stock for some extra flavour.

Heat a large heavy bottomed pot, to medium heat. Add a drizzle of oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Then add sliced onions saute until golden. Now add the meat, and all of the spices to cover the onions and meat. Once the meat is sealed flip over and continue cooking until the other side is sealed. add tomato paste and about 1 cups of water.  Let simmer for 10 minutes. Now add the beans, (the or stock should cover the beans by 3 inches if using fresh and by 2 inches for cooked so you may need extra water) bring back to a simmer, then lower the to a low temperature.  Keep and eye on the water level it should cover the bean but the meat should still be visible. you may need to top up the water level. See the picture below.


Cook for 1 1/2 hour to 2 hours on a low temp. This stew is best cooked on a low temp for a long time, or you could use a pressure cooker and shorten the time in half. (Hello slow cooker! This is a great meal for it)

Once the meat and beans are tender. Then add the crushed garlic and chopped cilantro. Let cook for 5 minutes more, then let cool a bit. Adjust spice if needed. I like to add a sprinkle of extra Libyan spice at the end.

Now for serving! There are different ways to serve this dish.

Most traditional is to serve with bread and use the bread as your spoon, or the other way is to spoon the stew on top of some rice and serve. My personal favorite way to eat this is with a baked sweet potato.

Libyan Bharat

1 heaping tablespoon Turmeric
2 Tablespoons freshly roasted and ground caraway
1 tablespoon 7-spice mix
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

mix together and store in a well-sealed container.


When using dried beans soak overnight, rinse and do a flash boil before using in the stew. This recipe is very forgiving so any bean you have on hand will do.

This dish also freezes very well too! Just a frozen bean stew to a pot on low temperature until hot and then serve.

Sarah J


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