Loubia means bean in Darija. When Moroccans refer to “loubia” they are speaking of white beans and more specifically super simple white bean recipe. Despite the simple recipe, they really pack a lot of flavor. Here in Morocco there are many little bodega type shops that cook up a pot of loubia in the morning and serve a bowl of beans with bread by noon. You can make loubia as spicy hot (or not) as you like. You can add lamb or beef to make a more hearty meal out of it, but this is just a very simple vegan recipe. It’s basically just beans, tomatoes, onions and garlic, along with a few herbs and spices.
This recipe took me the longest to perfect. First, it took me time to get the beans cooked to the proper softness. I have read that the dry beans you get here in Morocco differ in cooking time than the beans you buy in the States. Until I got a pressure cooker I was under cooking them. Most of the beans would be done and some other beans in the pot were still hard. So, just know if you are cooking the beans from dry without a pressure cooker the cooking time may exceed and hour. You will have to check the beans and adjust the cook time to the beans you have. The other challenge for me was getting the spice mix right. I combed recipes online and many didn’t have the authentic flavor that my Moroccan man was used to. After tasting many bowls of loubia, from different shops, it hit me that the main spice ingredient for loubia is turmeric. Turmeric gives the luobia their lovely rich yellow color but, always be careful when handling it because this spice does stain. I’ve learned the hard way, just ask all of my kitchen towels! Having said that, the good thing about turmeric is that, this spice from the ginger family, it is touted for it’s superior anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and pain relieving properties. Coupling the turmeric with black pepper greatly enhances the absorption of the active ingredient, curcumin in turmeric. So, even though its not traditional, I add some black pepper to my recipe.
Oh… and just so you know, you can use canned beans if you don’t have the time to cook the beans from dry. In the recipe below, I will note when to add the pre-cooked beans. Now, lets get to that recipe….
- 1 Cups Dry White Beans (Navy or Cannellini)
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive
- 1 Large Onion, diced
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Medium Tomatoes chopped or 1 small can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Fresh Chili Pepper (habanero or jalapeno will work, too)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon of Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Turmeric
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cayenne Pepper (optional)
- 1 Teaspoon Black
- ¼ Cup French Chopped Cilantro
- ¼ Cup Fresh Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
- 2 1/2 Cups Water
- If using dry beans, rinse the beans in cold water. Place in a container filled with cold, salted water about two inches above the surface of the beans. Allow to soak overnight.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed lidded pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, chili and salt. Cook over medium low heat until the onions are tender and translucent and the tomatoes start to loose their liquid (if using fresh tomato) about 10 – 12 minutes.
- Add the spices (and tomatoes if using canned), allow to cook a few minutes more till spices become fragrant
- Drain the beans and add to the onion, tomato and spice mixture. Pour enough fresh water to just cover the beans and a pinch more salt. Add the chopped cilantro. Bring it all to a simmer and allow to cook, covered, until the beans are tender, about 40 minutes in a pressure cooker or 1-1.5 hours in a lidded pot. If you are using canned beans simmer for about 20 minutes.