Batar da’an (boiled corn in Tetum) is a delicious vegan and gluten-free dish prepared with corn and mung beans from East Timor.
Today, we are going east… twice, to a country called East-East. This is the actual translation of Timor Leste or East Timor. Indeed, Timor is a variant of timur which means “east” in Indonesian and Malay. Leste means “east” is in Portuguese.
East Timor was the first state to declare its independence this century. Indeed, after centuries of Portuguese colonization, the state became independent in 1975 before being invaded by Indonesia. The country was finally able to restore its sovereignty in 2002.
East Timor is a relatively poor country that has suffered from the conflicts that led to its independence. It is part of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP in Portuguese), which includes lusophone countries. Lusophone? Yes, lusophony is all the cultural identities, regions, countries and communities linked to the Portuguese language. It is also a very useful word that you should try to bring up at your next cocktail party!
Eight countries are currently members of this organization: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor. These eight countries represent a total population of 240 million Portuguese-speaking people.
East Timor has a unique geographical feature. Indeed, if the country mainly covers the eastern part of the island of Timor (the western part of the island being part of Indonesia), it includes the small islands of Atauro and Jaco but also a small enclave in the western part of the island. Indeed, the District Oecusse of just 800 km2 is located in the middle of the Indonesian part of the island of Timor.
What is batar da’an?
Photo credit: Nicole Le Strange
- 1 lb corn (fresh or frozen)
- ⅔ lb dried mung beans
- 2 lb squash (or pumpkin or butternut squash), peeled and diced
- 4 cups water
- 2 onions , diced
- 8 cloves garlic , minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- The night before, soak the mung beans in water for at least 10 hours.
- Drain the mung beans.
- Boil them for 10 to 15 minutes in a large amount of water.
- Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes in a separate pan.
- Add water, squash, beans and corn to the onion and garlic.
- Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced to a minimum.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice.