My ancestors are from the city of Ordubad in Azerbaijan. Even though neither my parents nor my sister and I were born there, we have been influenced by the food of that region immensely with authentic recipes from Ordubad having been passing from generation to generation in our family.
The following recipe of a hearty and flavorful stew is one of those dishes. In Ordubad beans, both dried and fresh, are especially popular. Traditionally, beans are slow cooked with “govurma”- lamb fried in its own fat and stored in buckets for winter, then added to the stews and soups. I don’t have a luxury of using “govurma” in my recipes, so mine is a simplified version of the stew. Dried mint leaves and sour prunes we use in the stew add that special flavor to this delicious dish.
I was going to post this recipe later with better pictures, but decided to do it today, in memory of my dear grandma (nene) who passed away 3 days ago. Nobody in the family could compete with her Dried Bean Stew. Hers was just different, aromatic, so flavorful. This is to you, my dear sweet Nene. I will miss you and your “tasty hands” that nobody will ever replace for me.
Dried Bean Stew / Ordubad usulu Mash Shorbasi
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup (8 oz/230g) dried pinto beans, picked over and soaked in cold water overnight
2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil or butter
1 pound (450g) boneless meat (lamb or beef) cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into halves
4 dried sour plums (optional), pitted
1 tablespoon dried mint
VARIATION: If sour plums are not available, add a slice of lemon or 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice to the pot in Step 6.
1. Drain the beans, place them in a pot filled with water (about 4 cups). Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. You will notice the water will get darker from the bean. Remove from heat, drain, rinse well and set aside.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium non-stick saucepan. Add meat and cook for about 15 minutes or until evenly brown. Stir occasionally at first and frequently when the released liquid has reduced to the oily consistency to prevent meat from burning.
3. Add the onions and cook together for 5 minutes longer or until the onion is transculent.
4. Add tomato paste, mix well and stir-fry for another minute. Toss in the beans, season with salt and pepper. Pour water and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until meat and beans are just tender (beans should not be mushy).
6. Add potatoes, sour prunes, and dried mint and continue to cook covered over medium heat for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Adjust seasoning. If the stew is too thick, add more boiling water to loosen it. It should be hearty but still soupy in consistency.
7. Pour the soup into individual serving bowls and serve immediately with bread.