Legendary Dishes | Tavče Gravče (baked beans)

NORTH MACEDONIA

This aromatic bean casserole from Macedonia is made throughout the Balkans, each home with its own variation of the tradition dish – white beans, onions, paprika, red peppers, vegetables and fried whole spices. The peppers and tomatoes should be dried. Everything else is optional, and usually is. Some cooks add bacon and sausage or smoked meats from
various cuts. Ground paprika, ground spices and vegeta bouillon are usual additions. Mint is a constant in some versions.

  • 500 g white beans, dried (soak in water overnight) / fresh
  • 250 g onion, chopped large
  • 200 g dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 150 g dried red peppers, chopped
  • 125 g bacon / sausages / smoked meat, cubed (optional)
  • 125 g sunflower oil
  • 60 ml bean liquid
  • 45 g walnuts, crushed
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15 g paprika
  • 15 g vegeta boullion powder (optional)
  • 5 g mint / parsley, fresh, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • Black pepper, large pinch, for garnish
  • Salt, pinch
  • Mint leaves, fresh, for garnish
  • 4 bay leaves

Bring the beans to a boil in a large pot of water, remove froth from surface, drain, keeping some of the cooking liquid. Put the beans back in the pot with the bay leaves and onions, cover with fresh water. If using, add meat at this stage. Cover and simmer until beans are tender, around 75 minutes for reconstituted beans, 45 minutes for fresh. Don‘t let the beans break up. Remove to a large bowl. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok. When the oil starts to smoke remove from heat, add whole spices, then the garlic followed by the vegetables, herbs and seasonings. Stir thoroughly. Preheat oven to 250°C. Carefully fold the vegetable mixture into the beans, sprinkle with paprika. Add liquid, stir into beans. Sprinkle walnuts across the top. Spoon into a casserole dish, bake uncovered at 200°C for 30 minutes, until the beans have formed a crust.