This kuru fasulye recipe – Turkey’s famous and much-loved white bean stew – is a wonderfully comforting and tasty dish. It never challenges – you know exactly what you’re getting – but it always satisfies!
The best recipes are not necessarily the most complicated recipes, are they? For us, the best recipes are those that conjure up happy memories. Memories of home, childhood, travels past. Whatever they may be. Our kuru fasulye recipe takes us back to one of our many visits to Istanbul.
Some areas are famous for particular foods. If you remember, we said we love to go to Ortaköy to eat kumpir. You can eat this famous street food anywhere…but, if you want the full kumpir experience, you’ve just got to go to Ortaköy if you’re in Istanbul.
And then there’s that other famous Turkish staple: Kuru fasulye…
Erzincanlı Ali Baba – Famous Kuru Fasulye
If you’re in Istanbul and you take yourself off for a wander around the Süleymaniye Mosque and gardens, be sure you don’t miss out on a famous kuru fasulye experience, too.
Because, as well as this stupendous masterpiece of a mosque by Mimar Sinan, the Süleymaniye area of Beyazıt is also famous for kuru fasulye.
This is Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi – or ‘that kuru fasulye street,’ as we like to call it. Once you’ve marvelled at the mosque and wandered the grounds. And photographed the incredible views. And decided Istanbul is just mesmerising and too much to take in, it’s time to go off and fill your rumbling tummy…
And when it comes to kuru fasulye, this street, running along the perimeter walls of the mosque complex is exactly the place you want to be.
Erzincanlı Ali Baba Kuru Fasulyeci is famous for serving up bowls of plump white beans in a lightly-spiced tomato sauce. Pure Turkish comfort food, and, despite being right next door to a major Istanbul tourist draw, it’s not going to cost you the earth. No, this is proper cheap, wholesome grub that’s gonna set you up for the rest of the day.
There just to entice the tourists? No, absolutely not. Of the tourists that do make it to Süleymaniye, a few will sit down to eat here, but Erzincanlı Ali Baba Kuru Fasulyeci has been around since the 1920s.
So famous is this establishment’s kuru fasulye recipe that, at lunchtime, the place is packed with office workers, local tradespeople and students from the various faculties of Istanbul University. Many of those faculties are snuggled around this area.
Compared to beautifully hectic Eminönü, for example, this area is peaceful and pedestrian. It all feels very quaint. But don’t be fooled. Kuru fasulye at Erzincanlı Ali Baba Kuru Fasülyeci is a conveyor-belt-type operation.
Numerous waiters cutting huge chunks of fresh Turkish bread, bowl after bowl of white bean stew appears in the hatches. And yet more waiters grab them and carry them over to hungry customers packed onto the rows of tables.
There’s nothing posh or serene about this eating experience. You sit where there’s a space, the basket of bread and a bottle of water appears before you and the waiter looks at you.
Obviously, you’re here for kuru fasulye so now all that’s left is for the waiter to offer you accompaniments. Rice? Yeah, go on then. Cacık? Yeah, go on then.
Within a matter of seconds, the food appears. Just mm-mm-mmm. Look at that big fiery chilli on top, too. At this point, we notice some of the people devouring their famous kuru fasulye are also complementing the dish with turşu.
Ohh, we weren’t given the turşu option. We glance around for a waiter – you’ve gotta be bold and call out, here, otherwise your chances of attention are slim. A huge bowl of pickled chillies and gherkins is plonked onto the table and we’re happy.
This Turkish staple of beans and rice is so tasty and so filling. And Erzincanlı Ali Baba Kuru Fasulyeci portions are far from small. Eventually, we can eat no more. There’s still some rice in our bowls and thick wedges of bread sit in our basket. But not for long. A workman leans over towards us.
“Not eating that?”
“Nooo, we’re too full.”
“Thanks,” he says, and with that, the basket is whipped away and its contents poured into his own basket. He’s got through two portions of kuru fasulye and rice while we’ve worked our way through just the one and he’s polished off the bread, too. Impressive!
Guess exploring the sights of Istanbul doesn’t build up quite so much hunger as a hard day’s work.
A Quick & Easy Turkish White Bean Stew
So that’s our happy kuru fasulye memory – the one that makes us love this dish so much that we make it often at home. It transports us back to travels past.
Kuru fasulye means ‘dried beans’ and this recipe is traditionally made with dried beans. Meat is also not an essential ingredient, so, if you’re vegetarian, just skip the meat stage. The vegetarian version is just as tasty – as you can see from our Istanbul experience.
For our kuru fasulye recipe, we’re going to save ourselves a lot of time and use tinned beans. The flavour and texture of dried beans is slightly better but, let’s face it, if you decide you want to make kuru fasulye to eat right away, soaking your dried beans for at least 8 hours is not going to be an option.
This recipe serves 4 people easily – if there’s only two of you, like us, never fear because kuru fasulye is just as tasty warmed up the day after.
How To Make Kuru Fasulye
Kuru Fasulye Recipe - Turkish White Bean Stew
- 800 g tinned haricot beans 400g drained
- 150 g lamb cut into small cubes
- 1 large onion peeled & finely chopped
- 1 large tomato roughly chopped
- 1 green bell pepper seeded & finely chopped - optional
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 knob butter enough to cover bottom of pan
- salt &; pepper to season
- 500 mls meat stock or hot water
- First of all, drain your can of beans in a colander and give them a good rinse.
- In a deep saucepan, melt your butter over a medium heat and add your onions and peppers (if using).
- Sweat the onions until they start to become translucent and start to soften.
- Now add your meat to the pan, stir and saute for 15 minutes.
- When your meat has browned and started to soften, add your tomato and stir for a few minutes until it starts to break down.
- Add your tomato puree, salt and pepper and stir into the mixture.
- Now turn the heat to high, pour your water or stock into the pan and stir.
- Bring to the boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the stew is starting to thicken and the lamb has softened.
- Now add your haricot beans (kuru fasulye), stir and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Leave to rest for around 10 minutes and then serve.
- In Turkey, tins of haricot beans are called 'haşlanmış kuru fasulye' which means 'boiled haricot beans.'
- These beans are sold in 800g tins. When drained, you will have 400g. If you can't buy these where you live, you will need 2 x 400g tins, drained.
- Traditionally, Turkish kuru fasulye recipes use dried beans. If you prefer to use dried beans, soak them overnight - or for at least 8 hours. After this, they will take around 45 minutes to cook and will soften when you boil them.
- We have written an etli kuru fasulye recipe (Turkish white bean stew with meat). Lamb is the traditional meat to use but you can also use beef or chicken. Sucuk Turkish sausage is also a popular option.
- If you are vegetarian, you can leave the meat out and just follow the simple kuru fasulye recipe. And if you are vegan, you can use oil rather rather butter for cooking.
- As with all of our recipes, the calorie count per serving in our kuru fasulye recipe is approximate and meant as a general guide. We have calculated calories based on the use of lamb meat and cooking with butter.
And that’s how we make etli kuru fasulye. Such a simple dish but so tasty and comforting. And, for us, a dish full of memories – what the best recipes are made of, as far as we’re concerned.
If we make our kuru fasulye recipe in the summer months, we usually make it without the meat. The meaty version just feels more wholesome for the winter months.
How To Eat Your Kuru Fasulye
You’ll notice in the recipe that we’ve said to let your kuru fasulye stand for a few minutes before serving. This is because, in Turkey, food isn’t usually eaten when it’s steaming hot. Let the bean stew cool a little and prepare your accompaniments.
We like to take ourselves back to the kuru fasulye place in Istanbul. Slice a few thick wedges of fresh crusty bread. Make yourself a portion of traditional Turkish rice and whip up a quick bowl of cacık. Oh, and of course, dish out the Turkish pickles (turşu), too.
- Kuru fasulye is served in most lokantas if you don’t fancy making your own.
- The lokantas opposite Süleymaniye Camii in Istanbul are famous for their kuru fasulye.
- If you like the look of this recipe, you could also give our Turkish recipe for lamb stew with chickpeas a go, too.
- If you love to cook at home, check out our selection of Turkish recipes.