When you explore vegetarian meals in Moroccan cuisine, there are three traditional dishes that you’ll stumble across again and again. Bissara (Moroccan fava bean soup), adas (Moroccan brown lentils), and loubia (Moroccan white beans). Loubia means beans but when you talk about loubia as a meal it means white beans in a flavorful tomato gravy. White beans in tomato sauce is a dish that is, in different variations, common in many cuisines of the world. Especially in the Mediterranean area, you find various recipes but also the famous baked beans are basically beans in tomato sauce. The Moroccan loubia is cooked with fresh tomatoes and typical Moroccan spices, fresh parsley and coriander (the common herbs of Moroccan cuisine) and a good shot of olive oil.
The recipe that I’m going to share with you today is my method of Moroccan white beans. The gravy is made with the traditional Moroccan spice mix consisting of paprika powder, garlic, cumin, ginger, and fresh parsley and coriander. Additionally, I add carrot and celery into the sauce to reach a well-rounded taste. The carrot with its natural sweetness balances the acidity of the tomatoes and the bitterness of the spices. The celery adds more depth to the taste. It makes the sauce tasting richer but you will not know why when you try it. Before I put the beans in to the gravy, I blend it. This makes the carrot and the celery invisible so to say and the texture of the sauce becomes very homogenous and smooth.
I recommend cooking the beans in a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are a common tool in Moroccan kitchens and for this recipe, it is really helpful to get soft beans that are not burned. You can cook this recipe in a normal pot, too but cooking time is much longer and you have to check the cooking process regularly.
Serve your loubia as a vegetarian main course with fresh bread and a salad or as a side dish. Freeze the leftover loubia, so you have a quick tasty side dish on hand!
- 200g dry white beans (soaked for at least 8 hours)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 carrot
- 3 large tomatoes (large, not huge!)
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- salt and optionally black pepper to taste
- fresh parsley and coriander
- Peel the onion and the garlic cloves, and the carrot. Then, chop the onion and the carrot.
- Heat the olive oil in a pot. Use a pressure cooker if you have, as the white beans need a lot of time to cook until nice and soft. Add garlic, onion, and carrot and sauté everything on low to medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove the stalks of the tomatoes and cut them roughly into chunks. When the veggies in the pot are nicely sautéed, add the tomatoes and the celery. Fry it for some more minutes. Then, add water (about 300ml) and cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes and the carrots are soft.
- Next, add cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika powder, tomato paste, and black pepper. We will add the salt a bit later to make sure that the beans become nice and soft. Add some more water to the mixture if necessary and blend it with a stick blender. Now you can add the soaked bean to the sauce.
- Make sure that there is enough water in the sauce as the beans will absorb more liquid during cooking. Cook the beans with pressure for about 40 minutes in total. There are lots of different pressure cookers and different types of white beans. So the cooking time can be different. Therefore, check the beans after 20 minutes. Simply turn off the heat after 15 minutes of cooking time and open the pressure cooker as soon as the pressure is released. Add the salt now and add more water if necessary.
- When you cook the beans in a pot, cover it with a lid. Stir the beans regularly and also check the water content from time to time. Add more water, as soon as the gravy becomes too thick. When you cook the beans in a pot, be very attentive as the beans sink to the bottom and can burn easily although it seems that there is still enough liquid in the pot! Season the beans with salt when they are 75% done.
- When the beans are soft, add the freshly chopped parsley and coriander. When you cooked the beans in the pressure cooker, there is probably still much liquid in the pot. Cook the beans without lid until the gravy has a nice consistency. It should still be rather light as the beans will thicken the gravy while resting. When you cook the beans in a pot you might have to add, on the contrary, more water in the end.
- Finally, taste the beans and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the beans as a main dish with fresh bread, marinated olives, and a simple salad. Put a preserved chili on top if you like it spicy! I prefer to serve it with rice instead of bread. It’s super delicious but not the Moroccan way 🙂