This hearty and rich authentic Middle Eastern stew is made with white beans in a meaty tomato sauce, seasoned with all those good Middle Eastern spices. Fasoolia Baida is a complete comfort food, filling stick to your ribs and just delicious!
What is Fasoolia baida?
Fasoolia Baida translates literally into white beans. It’s prepared in Middle Eastern cuisine with chunks of meat in a tomato sauce, and served with vermicelli rice usually. Fasoolya Baida is a complete comfort food, filling, stick to your ribs and just delicious! Not to mention completely healthy.
We cook two types of Fasoolia in Palestinian cuisine- the white one like this, and green fasoolia (green beans). The green beans can be prepared as a cold mezze with olive oil, lots of garlic, and no meat, or in a similar preparation as this dish, served as a main with meat.
I love both green and white bean dishes, but I do have a fondness for white bean stew. The beans enrich the stew with a velvety texture, and the sauce is so wonderfully thick and comforting and fragrant. It’s such a homey dish that I’ve grown to appreciate more and more as I grow older.
How do I make Fasoolia baida?
Let’s start with the most important component- the beans! The white beans are purchased dry, and soaked overnight in a large bowl of water. I add a teaspoon of baking soda, which helps to tenderise the beans further.
Why soak beans overnight?
It helps to reduce cooking time drastically, helps the beans maintain their shape with less split skins, and also helps remove some of indigestible sugars in the beans that cause gassiness.
The beans will be rinsed after an overnight soak, and boiled in a separate sauce pan until completely cooked through, because once they are added to our meat/tomato sauce, they won’t cook any further.
Don’t have time to soak your beans? No problem, they’ll still cook, they’ll just take longer!
Making the meat tomato sauce will seem very familiar to you if you’ve made Bamia before. It’s the same base.
Onions are sautéed in the base of the pan, and the meat is browned. I almost always use beef, but lamb is commonly used also. The meat is then covered with enough water to come to about an inch or two above the meat. To this, we add tomato paste, aromatics like bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, and all our spices.
There are two ways to cook this, with a pressure cooker or in a regular pan. I prefer pressure cooker because it makes it so much faster and the meat always comes out tender and perfect.
Cooking the meat cubes without a pressure cooker:
You can follow all the steps to make the meat stew, but instead of using a pressure cooker, let the meat come to a boil in the sauce and cook for 45 minutes to an hour until tender and falls apart when you cut it with a fork.
What makes this an authentic Middle Eastern recipe?
Seven spices are a very commonly use component in Levantine cooking. It’s a blend of black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, fenugreek and nutmeg. To make your own seven spices, you can try following this recipe.
What to serve Fasoolia baida with:
It’s traditionally served with vermicelli rice. I have a whole post on how to make the perfect vermicelli rice here. You can also serve with plain white rice or brown rice for a healthier option, or even enjoy this soup-style without any additional carbs.
How to store the bean stew:
This will last tightly covered in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in a freezer safe bag for 4-6 months. Thaw overnight in fridge if freezing, then heat on the stovetop.
Fasoolia Baida – Middle Eastern White Bean Stew
- Pressure Cooker
- 2.5 cups dry white beans 500 g
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 500 g boneless meat cubes (beef or lamb)
- 1 carton tomato paste 200 g
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon seven spices
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
For the topping:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8-10 small cloves garlic, crushed
- 1-2 bunches coriander, finely chopped
- pinch salt
- In a large bowl, add the white beans and enough water to cover the beans completely. Add the baking soda, and soak overnight.
- The next day, drain and rinse the beans very thoroughly to get rid of any traces of baking soda. In a large saucepan, place the beans and add water until completely covered. Bring to a boil, and leave to boil on medium heat uncovered for about an hour or until beans are completely tender and cooked through. If the water starts to dry out, top it up.
- Meanwhile, prepare the meat/tomato sauce. In a pressure cooker on medium high heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot, add the onion, and saute for a couple minutes until starting to soften. Add the meat cubes and continue to stir, until the meat has browned.
- Add enough water to cover the meat by an inch or so, then add the tomato paste, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, seven spices, turmeric powder, cumin, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Cover pressure cooker, let it come to pressure and once it has, cook for 25-30 minutes, then turn off the heat. When the pressure has released, open the pressure cooker.,* See recipe notes for how to make this without a pressure cooker
- Once the meat has cooked through and beans are seperately cooked through, drain the beans, and add the cooked beans to the meat and tomato stew. Stir to combine thoroughly. Remove from heat.
- To make the topping, heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the crushed garlic, finely chopped coriander and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until garlic has started to brown and herbs have wilted. Add this garlic coriander mixture to the stew and stir to combine it evenly throughout.
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