Red bean is the star ingredient of lobio (bean in Georgian), a kind of thick baked bean soup flavored with various herbs and spices to make a rather unique dish that is often eaten with bread as well as cheese.
What is lobio?
Lobio, Georgia’s national dish can be made in dozens of ways. The version presented today is called lobio nigozit (or lobio nigvzit).
What are the different versions of lobio?
Among other known versions is lobio kirkazhi, which is more akin to a bean salad with whole red beans, and is popular in the Kakheti region.
Also, lobio gupta is a bean salad, this time with mashed beans and scallions.
Lobio tkemali is the emblematic variant with tkemali, this ubiquitous Georgian condiment made with plums.
Green beans are also used in some lobio versions as in lobio satsivi with fairly similar ingredients.
Georgia’s location at the crossing of Asia and Europe has its cuisine influenced by Europe, but also Western Asia and the Middle East. Vegetarian recipes, enhanced by a variety of herbs and spices are definitely featured in this country’s cuisine.
How to make lobio
But back to the classic baked bean version of lobio aka lobio nigozit. This traditional Georgian recipe makes use blue fenugreek (utskho suneli or უცხო სუნელი), a flagship spice from the West Asian country.
Lobio is eaten often with cheese and the traditional Georgian cornbread called mchadi.
The addition of walnuts and pomegranate molasses, plus spices and herbs gives a unique taste to lobio that everyone appreciated at home. The rather unusual combination of these two ingredients is reminiscent of two other Middle Eastern recipes, namely Syrian muhammara and Persian fesenjoon.
I’ll definitely make this baked beans recipe again, varying the pleasures with all the new Georgian spices I ordered to make it!
- 1 lb dried red kidney beans
- 2 onions
- ½ bunch cilantro , finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon ground blue fenugreek
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup walnut halves , finely ground
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasse
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- A few cilantro leaves
- A few pomegranate seeds
Pour the red kidney beans in a large pot filled with a 6 cups (1,5l) of water.
- Add the bay leaves and salt.
- Cook over medium heat until the beans are tender, at least 1 hour.
- Grind cilantro, blue fenugreek, garlic, black pepper and a pinch of salt in a mortar.
- Chop the onions.
- Fry the onions in a pan with hot oil until translucent.
Drain the cooked beans into a large bowl. Keep 1 cup (200ml) of the cooking liquid for later use.
- With the back of a wooden spoon, mash the beans on the side of the bowl.
- Add the ingredients which were crushed in the mortar, the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasse, fried onions and cooking oil to the beans.
- Mash all the ingredients until everything is completely incorporated.
- Add the cup of cooking liquid to the beans.
- Transfer the ingredients to the pot and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve in clay pots with hot mchadi bread.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds.