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 Johann Sebastian 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, sauté 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 sauté 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 them 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!

61 Comments Add yours

  1. Looks so tasty! Love Georgian food, which is very popular in Israel.
    By the way, I also posted a recipe with beans today. Maybe it’s something in the air! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ronit. I’ll go look at your recipe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. J Balconi says:

    Fantastic music! Beautiful food!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Jean; I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Doug Thomas says:

    Very educational! I love stopping by here for you always interesting cultural and gastronomic delights! I live where a variety of beans fill the bins and bank accounts of many farmers and middlemen, so it is interesting to see other ways the red kidney beans are used in Georgia. I think the Georgian writing system (other than being totally impossible for me to read!) is especially pretty.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_language

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love your turn of phrase, Doug! As to Georgian language, I remember buying some sheets of music in Georgia just because those were not available in Odessa. When I came home, the only way I could identify what I bought was by playing. One was Debussy, the other one Saint-Saens. But the writing is pretty, I agree.

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  4. Thank you for the view into Georgian history too, Dolly! Bean stew is a good beginning for drinking a lot of wine too. Lol
    Sorry, i know the kidney beans made in a stew, with a lot of chilli. 😉 Will try your indeed healthier recipe. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Georgians usually do not use hot peppers, like chilli or jalapeno. Instead, they use a lot of garlic and cilantro. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d read the recipe.Yes, garlic is much more better. Its was study time as we made the Chilli con carne. Garlic was forbitten by visiting the courses. On time i did, but i had to leave the room. Lol Best wishes, Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s funny, Michael. Best wishes to you as well for a wonderful weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you very much for your kind words. Dolly You too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    BEANS WITH BOUNCE! AND SO MUCH HISTORY U DIDN’T KNOW! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging and a lovely comment, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You ALWAYS deserve them!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are so sweet, Jonathan!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. And YOU’RE SO HARD WORKING !!!!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Flattery will get you far, as you no doubt know!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. AH…I”m just a harmless little fuzzball! :0)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. As usual, you have entertained and inspired me. I’ve been looking for new ways to cook beans and will definitely try this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Marie; I am so glad you like it.

      Like

  7. lifelessons says:

    This recipe has my mouth watering. Literally. I’ll have to make do with some celery soup my neighbors brought over. I tasted it when they first brought it and it’s delicious. I didn’t know you could make soup out of celery!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can make soup out of anything, Judy. I remember using an old Russian folk tale about a wily soldier who made soup out of an axe in a post, but I can’t find that post, sorry.

      Like

      1. lifelessons says:

        Do you know the story about stone soup?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it’s similar. I suppose every culture has one.

        Like

  8. More fascinating cultural insights. You described the dancing perfectly. I didn’t have time for much of the singing,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even a couple of minutes of that singing is truly spectacular. Thank you for your kind comment, Derrick.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Cilantro. Mmmm. What’s not to like? 🌿🌱🍃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wait – more Georgian food is cooking! This was just to get everybody into Georgian mood.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stay tuned, darling!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. purpleslob says:

    Yummy! I like kidney beans, and garlic! cilantro- not so much. That singing was gorgeous!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear purple person! You can substitute parsley for cilantro, but then it will lose some of that specifically Georgian flavor. They stick cilantro into everything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. purpleslob says:

        Everything?? Uh oh, I better not go to Georgia then! lol Is YHWH a Hebrew name for God?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It really isn’t as we believe that He has no name but only qualities, or attributes, if you will. This is a Latin transliteration of a Hebrew abbreviation of Almighty. We do not even pronounce or spell out the attributes, to follow the commandment to not use the Name in vain. Thus we abbreviate them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. purpleslob says:

        But how do you write it down in the Torah then??

        Liked by 1 person

      4. In the Torah, as well as all the Holy scrolls (Ruth, Job, etc.) it is written using the same four-letter abbreviation that has been erroneously transliterated by Roman translators.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. My pleasure, dear Purple Person!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. CarolCooks2 says:

    My favourite beans and a fascinating look at history…I love the sound of this recipe walnuts are my favourite nut and red wine ..well it would be rude not to…:)

    Liked by 1 person

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

      Like

  12. That singing is tremendous! The food sounds so good, too. My Sweetie is a musician and sings bass, he will love this.

    Liked by 1 person

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

      Like

  13. That singing is tremendous! My Sweetie is a musician and has sung bass in choirs, including on recordings with orchestras, and he is going to be very impressed.

    Now i will have to try Georgian food, it sound so very, very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, I am sure he will love it, and the food too.

      Like

  14. Looks soOO delicious! Somehow the Middle East comes together in this potluck of a dish! The history that you shared and video were a sheer invite. The men dancers with their knives hands reminded me of the movie, “Edward Scissor Hands”. LOL! As expected, the woman dancers did come in a uniformed sequence that complimented the intro of your share of the cultural duties and relationship of the men and women. I have heard so much about Georgia but never did I give it much attention. Fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is a unique culture, and I am pleased that you appreciate it, darling. I loved visiting there. Thank you so much for a lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am one of those who was baffled by the remoteness of Georgia. What a rich history and a blend of cultures indeed, especially Jewish. And right across from the obscure Armenia.🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Georgia is not all that remote, but it is mostly in the mountains, other than a part of it that is on the Black Sea. I used to go mountain hiking in the Crimea and Caucasus when I was young, and then I had a few business trips that took me to different parts of Georgia. Armenia is far from obscure, as you will see in my next post.

        Like

  15. Lulu: “Our Dada says he might just bust out some of our dried beans and give this recipe a try!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Lulu, thanks for stopping by! Tell your Dada we wish him good luck.
      The Cat Gang.

      Like

  16. Love Lobio, make it all winter long 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. chattykerry says:

    I love cilantro, walnuts and wine – a feast! Thank you for educating me about a country, Georgia, which I know nothing about – not the cuisine or culture. Love that drinking horn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Kerry; I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. exoticnita54 says:

    I’m definitely gonna try this dish.. and like you I’ll opt out the onions 🧅….

    Thanks 😊 so much for sharing and for teaching us a little about it’s origins…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for a lovely comment. I am so glad you like it!

      Like

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