Kidney Bean Lobio

Every time I make lobio, or any other Georgian dishes (that’s a country, not a state), it reminds me not only of the majestic Caucasus mountains, but also of the unique culture of Georgian people. Militant, fiercely independent, yet exceptionally warm and hospitable to strangers, they are fond of traditional, hours-long feasts with an endless stream of various dishes, all fragrant with exotic spices, all colorful and flavorful, many with walnuts or almonds, and lots of vegetables. Georgians are famous both for their wines and for their elaborate, long-winded toasts. At every supra (feast), there is a toastmaster, called tamada, who calls the next toast. Best and most creative toastmakers are highly respected.

wine horn

The famous unbelievably delicious Georgian wines are drunk from kantsi, drinking horns, like the one hanging on my wall, presented to me by a gracious host with a disclaimer: it is really small, made for little boys who are only learning to drink from it, and a real “man-size” one I am not getting because “women don’t have time to hold it.” Now, if you don’t get this, visualize yourself holding a horn that contains two liters of Kindzmarauli for 10 – 20 minutes, or even more, waiting for a toast to end. And just as you hear the final “so let’s drink to…”, and thankfully bring it to your lips, you hear, “Alaverdi!” – someone wants to add to the toast already made, and you can’t put it down, and your arm is about to fall off, and you are thinking, “OMG, eventually I’ll have to drink all of it without putting it down!” Meanwhile, women are orchestrating that endless stream of food coming to the table. Of course they don’t have time!

vitiaz

Lest you start screaming discrimination, the Golden Age of Georgia dates back to 12th century, under the benevolent rule of the wise and beautiful Tzarina Tamar. One of the most accomplished Medieval poets, Shota Rustaveli, dedicated to her his famous epic poem The Knight in Tiger Skin. 

Looking at the Georgian dances, proud and powerful men and graceful, gentle women, you realize that the blood of this knight is still flowing in the veins of his descendants.

And the songs – polyphony proliferated here at least a few centuries before J.S. Bach! I found this on Youtube. This is just a family gathering, not a staged performance. I’ve been to a few of those, and let me assure you, this kind of polyphonic singing is a standard part of every supra. You don’t have to listen to all 50-something minutes of it, but do yourself a favor, click and hear something unique.

Yes, you’ll hear as many voices harmonizing as there are men at the table. When do they have time to eat all these splendid dishes? Oh, I don’t know, but they do manage!

Inasmuch as they love their meat, Georgians are also extremely creative with vegetables. Lobio is actually one of the most common and the least elaborate of them, but it does have the traditional ingredients: walnuts, kindza (cilantro), garlic, and red wine.

Lobio 1.jpg

The word lobio actually means beans, and not necessarily red kidney beans. It is related to Persian loobia, also a spicy bean stew,  and Moroccan loubia, a very spicy bean stew. Georgian lobio could be made as a stew or as a soup, and a stew is most often made with dark red kidney beans. You need to soak and cook the beans, and drain off some of the water, but not all. In a deep frying pan or dutch oven, saute those beans with squeezed garlic, chopped walnuts, and chopped fresh cilantro. The more garlic and cilantro you add to it, the more Georgian it will taste. There is also an option to add diced onion and saute it first, but I prefer not to. You can try it, if you like.

Lobio 3.jpg

Keep stirring occasionally, as it simmers. As the liquid evaporates and the beans are dissolving, add red wine and salt and pepper. You need to keep simmering and stirring, and singing, and sipping good Georgian wine, now available in most American liquor stores, and the beans are done when soft and bursting. Sometimes, people take lobio out when beans become very soft, mash them up together with walnuts, garlic, and cilantro, and then cook it some more with wine and lemon or pomegranate juice. It saves time, but the result is not very different. I prefer it this way, which comes out chunkier.

Lobio 3a.jpg

In my book, it is done when it looks like this, and you can still recognize the beans. It should still have plenty of liquid, and if too much of it evaporates, more wine and lemon juice can always be added. I have never cooked it in a clay pot or a tandoor oven, as I don’t own either one, but this is a pretty fair imitation of an authentic simple lobio.

Lobio 4

Garnished with lots of fresh cilantro – Georgians often serve plain fresh cilantro as an appetizer or a side dish on its own – it should be accompanied by Mchadi, plump cornmeal pancakes that you are supposed to dip into spicy lobio sauce. It could be served either hot or cold, or room temperature. Go ahead and start soaking your beans (overnight), and look up Mchadi recipe right here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans, 1 cup liquid preserved
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, and more for garnishing
  • 1/2 cup sweet or semi-sweet red wine, or more per need
  • A dash of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Lightly mist a deep frying pan or dutch oven with oil, transfer cooked beans in preserved liquid to the pan, bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
  • Add garlic, walnuts, and chopped cilantro, stir. Keep it simmering, stir often.
  • When liquid starts evaporating, add wine.Keep simmering. If too much liquid evaporates, add some more wine and a dash of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  • When beans are soft to bursting but there is still enough liquid for dipping, remove.
  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with plenty of fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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33 Comments Add yours

  1. Looks delicious! When I had this dish in a Georgian restaurant in Israel there were no walnuts in it, but I love this version much better. I will try it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never heard of lobio or satsivi without walnuts.I am not Georgian, but I’ve been there quite a few times and I love their food. I have collected a few Georgian cook books, and they confirm it. I think they just ran out of walnuts at that restaurant! Where was it, in Ashdod?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The restaurant was in Jerusalem and it was long time ago. I guess they were just skimpy…
        Georgian food is very tasty. I especially love their Khachapuri.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t even know of a Georgian restaurant in Jerusalem. Ashdod is where you get real Georgian food! I love khachapuri too, but again, where does one get real suluguni cheese? The combination of mozzarella and goat cheese does not really work.

    Like

  3. I was hoping you would have some bean dishes. My husband needs to have 1 vegan meal a day, but his tastes very very traditional. I am hoping that he will like this! If you have any other traditional bean dishes, please send them my way! I need to revamp my repertoire!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My pleasure! I do have some posted, such as Almost Moroccan Three-Bean salad, Spicy String Beans, or Florentine Salad. As Main Dishes, there is a Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf and Oriental Veggie Burgers (those have eggs in them, but you can use chia or flax egg substitutes). I hope this is helpful, and I’ll be posting more.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you! I think that outside of cholent, beans dishes are not so common.😕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Maybe here they aren’t, but in Europe and the Mediterranean they are used a lot. It’s a cheap, easy, and versatile source of protein.

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on koolkosherkitchen and commented:

    We are all pretty busy during the holiday season, so I thought repeating this quick and easy recipe will be helpful to many.

    Like

  8. This looks very delicious 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Irene!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. randyjw says:

    Your post was heart-gladdening and the dish looks delish!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can’t help it but rhyme, right? Cute! And thank you!

      Like

      1. randyjw says:

        Ah-hah-hah-hah-hah! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Perfect! And a perfect post for a travelogue too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Mel! I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on The Thriving Writer and commented:
    #Gastronomy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, sweetheart! I am honored and totally overwhelmed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure! This is a wonderful post! There are very few blogs that allow your mind take wings and soak up culture through your tummy! (Smile)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What a wonderful way of phrasing it – if I could blush, I would (skin too olive for that)! May I quote you in the book I am working on?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh my gosh, yes! Much success! If your book is even a little bit like your blog; you have a bestseller!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. In my grandmother’s tradition, I am spitting three times over my left shoulder (in case some unmentionable characters from “the other side” are standing there listening to you!)…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. LOL!!! Wait was your GMo related to mine! Their ways made way for us so I’m with you. Good move! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. What’s GMo – forgive my ignorance?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. It’s an abbreviation. my girls call my mom – GMo (grandmother). Now I use it too. (Smile)

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Got you – thanks! I am a GMo myself, you know, so yeah, we are all related, across continents, races, and cultures!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Love lobio! I do add a bit of onion chopped very finely. I also add sumac and sometimes khmeli-suneli :-). This dish is really overlooked here, in US, but is a great one, especially in winter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I do use sumac a lot, but not in lobio as it adds a lemony note that to me, somehow distracts from other flavors here. But it’s a matter of taste, same as onions. I wish I could get ready-made khmeli-suneli, but I guess I should stop being lazy and make my own!

      Liked by 1 person

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