Lobio Georgian Bean Stew Recipe
Lobio is a traditional Georgian dish and one of the pillars of their cuisine.
This dish has a concise and straightforward list of ingredients, just dried beans, onion, walnuts, garlic, and cilantro. As for the spices, I like to keep that part simple and traditional as well, using salt, chili pepper, coriander, a pinch of black pepper, and a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar. That’s it. But despite its modest appearance, Lobio is a vibrant and versatile dish, and it always holds a special place at Georgian Supra table.
Lobio can be made with almost any variety of dried or canned beans, maybe except for black turtle beans, although the most common choice is red kidney beans. When it’s made with high quality dried kidney beans, the stew gets an intense meaty, almost smoky, flavor. Its beautifully compliments dark meat, such as Mtsvadi – Georgian pork shashlik, and grilled vegetable.
Another wonderful choice for Lobio is pinto beans; with that variety, the stew texture is creamy and delicate, and the taste is much more subtle compared to kidney beans.
Using canned beans is also an option. The cooking time will depend on whether you’ve decided to use dried or canned beans. Of course, dried beans will take much longer to cook, but the dish will be more wholesome and flavorful. But if you only have canned beans, or you’re looking for something more convenient, canned beans will work just fine. Just make sure to use a generous amount of garlic and plenty of fresh cilantro.
When I cook Lobio, I usually also make some type of Caucasus flatbread to serve with it. Typically a khachapuri, lavash, or my recent favorite – Armenian Jingalov Hats stuffed with luscious greens and savory feta cheese. I highly recommend giving Jingalov Hats a try. This bread is incredibly refreshing and, to me, tastes like spring. I’m sure you’ll be completely blown away by its vibrant and unexpected flavor!
- 1 cup dried red kidney beans,( or two 15.5 ounces cans, if using canned beans)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cups finely chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon red wine or balsamic vinegar, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- extra virgin olive oil for serving
- 1 cup chopped cilantro, tightly packed
- Combine beans and a few cups of cold water in a medium bowl. Leave overnight to fully soak the beans.
- Drain the beans and place in a medium sauce pan. Pour in 5 cups of water and add a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lover the heat to medium low and simmer partially covered with the lid until the beans are very soft, but not mushy. The cooking time will depend on the bean variety and age. It might take 1 to 2 hours. If using canned beans skip the soaking and simmer beans covered with 1-inch of water, for approximately 20 minutes, then follow the steps.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion until soft and a slightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cook for 30 mire seconds. Remove from the heat.
- When the beans are soft and can be easily mashed with a back of a spoon it means they are ready. You should have approximately 1/2 cups of cooking liquid left in the saucepan. If there is more - drain the excess. At this point you can gently mash the beans with a large cooking spoon, or leave them whole - your choice. Stir in the onion mixture, tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Mix in the walnuts, vinegar (optional), salt, spices, and chopped cilantro. Cook for a few more minutes.
- Serve cold or warm, drizzled with some olive oil and topped with cilantro.