Baked White Beans with Spice-Cured Beef

Pastirmali Kuru Fasulye

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in


By David Dale and Somer Sivrioglu

Published 2015

  • About

The beans in this recipe are native to South America and didn’t reach Anatolia until the eighteenth century. But they quickly became a staple food.

Stewed white beans in tomato sauce is the cheapest and most popular snack in lokantas throughout Turkey, and generally served with rice and pickles.

Back in 1960, a political columnist named Çetin Altan kept having his columns banned or heavily censored by the government. In exasperation, he finally began a column with the words ‘Let’s talk about the benefits of white beans’. That phrase has become a kind of code to signal when a journalist is being censored.

Don’t try to rush this preparation. If you don’t soak the beans overnight and change the water several times, be prepared for digestive difficulties.


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) dried cannellini beans
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (to make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon capsicum (pepper) paste
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 green chillies
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 150 g ( oz) thinly sliced pastırma


Wash the beans, transfer to a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Change the water and then leave to soak overnight.

Strain and rinse the beans thoroughly. Put the beans back in the pan and cover with water (to about 5 cm/2 in above the beans). Stir in the dried oregano and cumin. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the water evaporates from the top and the beans are soft but not mushy.

Meanwhile, place a clay pot or casserole dish in the oven and preheat to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Roughly chop the onions. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in the tomato paste, capsicum paste, salt and pepper. Strain the beans and add them to the pan. Cook for 15 minutes.

Slice the tomato into rounds. Remove the stalks from the chillies and slit down one side to remove the seeds. Chop the chillies into pieces about 1 cm (½ in) wide.

Carefully take the pot out of the oven. Add the butter and pour in the bean mixture. Spread the slices of pastırma over the top, then layer with the tomato and chilli. Put the pot back in the oven and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

Serve the pastırmali kuru fasulye in the pot for people to help themselves.