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Navy Bean Stew And Rice Is Turkey's National Dish


navy bean stew with meat

Navy bean stew served with rice pilaf is considered Turkey's national dish.

Photo © Kybele - Fotolia.com

You may know Turkish cuisine for its famous sweets like baklava or its great kebabs, but did you know that on the streets, beans and rice are actually considered Turkey's national dish?

This dish is made in every home, workplace cafeteria, military mess hall and restaurant serving Turkish fare. If you're a meat and bean lover, try this juicy, hearty bean and meat stew.

Are you a vegetarian? Simply eliminate the meat from this recipe for a hot and satisfying vegetarian meal.

In Turkey, 'kuru fasulye' (koo-ROO' fahs-SOOL'-yeah), meaning 'dry beans,' are most often served over white rice pilaf accompanied by Turkish-style ultra-sour mixed pickles.

This dish is not only high in protein and fiber (even without the meat), it's also very economical. It makes great comfort food, escpecially on wet, chilly days.

Navy bean stew is best when cooked slowly in a dutch oven or terracotta oven cooker (similar to an unglazed clay cooker, but with a glazed interior). If you don't have one, don't worry. You can also cook it on the stove in a covered saucepan.

Simply increase the amount of water and add some extra water from time to time while the beans cook slowly to perfection.

The next time you want to serve a delicious menu that's easy on your budget, try this classic Turkish recipe.


  • 2 cups dry navy beans
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 500 grams/1 pound beef or lamb for stewing, cut in cubes
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, grated
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste (or 1 tbsp. tomato paste and 1 tbsp. sweet pepper paste)
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 3 cups hot water
  • ½ tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper


  1. Starting the night before, place the dry navy beans in a bowl and cover them with the milk. Let them soak overnight.
  2. The next day, when you're ready to cook them, drain the beans and place them in saucepan with enough water to cover them by about three inches. Bring the water to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to low. Let the beans boil gently until they're about half-cooked. Drain them again and set them aside.
  3. In your terracotta cooker or dutch oven, place the onion, meat, tomato paste, butter and salt and stir until combined. Add the beans then the water and cover.
  4. Place the cooker or dutch oven in a 200° C/ 385° F oven and cook for at least 3 hours, until the beans are soft and the meat is tender.
  5. When your beans are cooked, remove the cooker from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the edges, open and serve.
  6. If you don't have a terracotta cooker or Dutch oven, you can cook this recipe on the stove. Simply increase the amount of water to 4 cups and let the beans simmer very slowly with the cover on until tender. You may have to add extra water as they cook.
  7. The traditional Turkish way to serve beans is with rice pilaf and mixed dill pickles.
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  5. Turkish Navy Bean Stew (Kuru Fasulye) Recipe

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