This is such a delicious and simple recipe, you will want to add it to your favorites and quick dinners repertoire. The recipe is a classic Egyptian stew eaten in most Middle Eastern homes throughout various countries in the region. There are sure to be variations, but the main ingredients along with the green beans are crushed tomatoes seasoned with onions, garlic, and crushed coriander seed. Some people cook this with lamb or beef stew, and others keep it entirely vegetarian. I prefer to prepare this flavorful stews as a vegetarian recipe whenever possible as I am trying to be a more conscious consumer and cut down on the amount of meat butchered in the world, both for environmental and health reasons. Besides, dishes like this fasulya, my Sipinagh (spinach stew), mulokhia, or stuffed zucchini and peppers are already so tasty and hearty without the meat; you really do not need it.
You need green beans, of course. Because these are the main ingredient, and play the starring role, these guys need to be of superb quality. Some people use frozen cut green beans, which is fine. If you do use frozen, make sure it is cut only horizontally (not french cut). French cut green beans are thinly sliced, or julienne, vertically which is too thin for this stew, and all the juicy little beans will leak out, making a stringy mess of a stew. You want a nice full green bean, simply cut in half to be shorter in length.
While using frozen may be faster and more convenient, you will really enjoy this dish with some freshly picked, crunchy summer green beans! Simply cut off the stemmy ends and cut in half, or in thirds if the bean is particularly long. This is really the most tedious part of the recipe (which isn’t all too tedious at all), so you may want to enlist some help from the kids to do this part (a plastic knife works fine). My kids love to help and are more likely to eat when they have “cooked” the meal; so try to include the children whenever possible.
The stew is ready to be prepared once you have a crushed tomato sauce from either freshly blended tomatoes or a jar of crushed tomatoes. You will sauté the onions and garlic with the coriander, until fragrant. If meat is being used, you also add it in the beginning to brown it, before adding the tomatoes. Once the onions and coriander have scented your kitchen and have sizzled golden, pour in the crushed tomatoes. In Egyptian kitchens, the infamous chicken bouillon cube called Maggi is often used. I have forbidden this mysterious and magical concoction of MSG and sodium from my kitchen for a variety of reasons, so I use good ole’ chicken broth instead. I use Saffron Road’s Artisan Roasted chicken broth which flavors the stew perfectly. Let it simmer until all the flavors have come together and add the cut green beans for the last 20-30 minutes of cook time.
Serve with rice or your favorite grain, and enjoy!
- 1.5 pounds fresh green beans, stems cut off ends
- 1.5 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp crushed coriander seed
- 1 large onion, diced (3/4 cup diced)
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1 lb meat or lamb stew (optional) + 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper
- fresh cilantro leaves and stems for garnishing
- Wash the green beans thoroughly, and cut in half to shorten the length. It may be necessary to cut some into thirds if they are long. Do not cut vertically.
- Sautee the onions in the olive oil, over medium-high heat until yellow. Slowly stir in the crushed coriander seed, until fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spice.
- If you are cooking with stew meat, add it now with the salt and pepper and brown.
- Add the crushed and sliced garlic. Stir well as garlic browns quickly and may burn. Add the crushed tomatoes before the garlic burns.
- Add water if you are cooking meat. If no meat, simply add the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
- If you are cooking with meat, simmer for an hour. If you did not add meat, allow the sauce to simmer for 10-15 minutes before adding the green beans.
- Add the green beans and a few stems of cilantro for flavor and simmer on medium for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Taste the sauce and season with more salt if needed. Remove the cilantro stems after cooking if you do not want to eat the stems.
- Serve over rice and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
- If you added meat, the cook time will increase. The sauce will need to be diluted with more water to allow enough liquid for the meat to cook well. Let the sauce simmer for at least an hour before adding the green beans.