Barbunya pilaki, borlotti beans cooked in olive oil with tomatoes, onions and carrots, is my father’s favorite Zeytinyagli, Vegetables cooked in olive oil, Turkish style. Pilaki is a style of Turkish mezze, where vegetables and beans are mainly cooked with onions, garlic, tomato in olive oil, with a little addition of sugar, to balance the flavors. We serve pilaki garnished with herbs and wedges of lemon; the tangy, refreshing lemon juice is really a must here and complements borlotti, barbunya means so well. Turkey’s much loved Barbunya Pilaki is served at room temperature or cold as a mezze or appetizer.
In Turkey, you can get the fresh barbunya beans (in stripy pink) or borlotti beans in abundance in summer, at the farmers markets, Pazar. It was my dad’s job at my parent’s home in Istanbul to pod them ready to be cooked and whoever is around joins in this therapeutic podding exercise. My dear belated father, Orhan, absolutely loved barbunya Pilaki; his face would lit up even the mention of it.
If you can’t get hold of fresh barbunya beans, try the dried borlotti (or cranberry beans, as they are called in the US) beans, like I have used here. They are easy to cook, wholesome and delicious. Dried or fresh borlotti beans work best in this dish.
A variety of kidney beans, borlotti beans are a large plump bean that is pinkish-brown in color with reddish-brown streaks. They are packed with goodness, rich source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. If you are using dried beans, they need to be soaked and rehydrated in warm water for at least 8 hours or overnight. If you are pressed with time or can’t get the dried or fresh borlotti beans, try a good quality canned borlotti beans in this recipe; it will still be a nutritious, delicious meal.If you are using canned precooked borlotti beans, rinse the beans and set aside. Cook the vegetables first as per the recipe, for 20 minutes, and then gently combine the cooked beans into the pot and simmer further 10 minutes.
Traditional Barbunya Pilaki is quite a plain but delicious meal, mainly consisting of the beans, onions and tomatoes. I like adding carrots here, as their sweetness and texture goes well with barbunya. Our family loves Barbunya Pilaki therefore I tend to make a bit batch. It stays well in the fridge for good 3 days and as the flavors settle, tastes even better the next day. You can serve as part of a mezze spread, a delicious vegetarian and vegan course. We also enjoy Barbunya Pilaki next to grilled fish, meat and vegetables. If you choose to serve next to main courses, I suggest serving Barbunya Pilaki warm.
I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious and wholesome Barbunya Pilaki.
I am passionate about my homeland’s delicious, healthy Turkish cuisine; this recipe and over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland; Signed hardback copies are now 20 % OFF here, and delivered worldwide.
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- 350 gr/12 oz./2 cups dried borlotti beans (or cranberry beans), soaked in warm water overnight
- 1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, quartered and chopped in small cubes,
- 400 gr/ 1 can of good quality canned chopped tomatoes
- Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 10 ml/ 2 tsp sugar
- 45ml/3 tbsp. olive oil
- 16 fl. oz./2 cups water
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Soak the dried borlotti (or cranberry) beans overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- Then drain the beans, rinse and transfer to a pot, filled with plenty of cold water.
- Bring the pot to the boil, partially cover the pot and simmer for about 30 – 35 minutes. Make sure the beans become tender, but not soft or mushy, they should still have a bite to them.
- Drain and rinse the cooked beans under cold water and set them aside.
- Heat the olive oil in the pot and stir in the onions, sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, until they start to soften.
- Add the carrots, combine well and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the canned tomatoes and sugar, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine well.
- Add the beans to the pot and give it a good mix. Then pour in the water, combine well.
- Bring the pot to the boil; then turn the heat to low, cover the pan partially.
- Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until the beans are cooked (but not mushy). Check the seasoning and add a little more salt or ground black pepper if needed.
- Serve Barbunya Pilaki at room temperature or cold as part of a mezze spread or appetizer, garnished with chopped parsley and wedges of lemon by the side to squeeze over. If you choose to serve next to main courses, I suggest serving Barbunya Pilaki warm.
Özlem I was taught this by a Turkish lady and have been cooking this for years and years and we never get tired of this delicious dish!
Merhaba Barbara, I feel the same, such a classic, yet so humble, easy and delicious – a favorite with us too! Thank you for stopping by 🙂
Lovely beans, I could almost visualize the scene or your dad peeling the pods, we had a similar job at our place, very therapeutic…a recipe to try, I’ll look for the closest beans to these. XxPeri.
Thank you Peri, it is those memories of bean podding and what not stays with you isn’t it?:) hope you enjoy the recipe, I think it is called cranberry beans in the US, Ozlem xx
. . your dear father’s and mine!
I am glad to hear Barbunya Pilaki hits the spot with you too!:)
I agree with you Dad.
thank you BB, he has good taste buds : )
I must confess that I’ve never been very keen on borlotti beans, probably as a result of some pretty bad dishes in restaurants in the 70s and 80s. I’ve always thought that they could be delicious and that I should try more dishes with them, so this has inspired me to try again. It sounds lovely.
Thank you Phil, borlotti beans go really well with onions and carrots. But I think it is the tangy lemon juice that does it here for the borlotti beans, good match, glad you enjoyed the sound of it.
I did get around to making this at the weekend and it is delicious. So many thanks for another successful recipe. In fact, I made far too much so I’m hoping that it freezes well.
So delighted to hear it Phil, glad you enjoyed Barbunya Pilaki; I usually make a big batch too, it stays well in the fridge for good 3 days or so and I freeze too. Many thanks for letting me know : )
Özlem’ciğim, So that’s what those pink beans in the market are! I haven’t tried my hand at making them yet. If you make pilaki with fresh beans, do you just leave out the first two steps and combine the vegetables and boil them together as in the rest of the recipe? I’m glad you did this post because I’m always hesitant about trying out new things that appear in the market until I have a specific recipe. Mark ve Emma’ya selam söyle, öpüyorum. J
Merhaba sevgili Jolee, oh this would be wonderful with the fresh barbunya beans. Yes, once you pod them, just stir them in to the sauteed onions and tomato mixture and cook for about 30 minutes, until the beans are tender. They are worth giving a go, one of our favorite zeytinyaglis, hope you enjoy it : ) Hepimizden cok sevgiler, Ozlem xx
Could you please advise if it is possible to make this with canned Borlotti beans?
Merhaba Been, sure you can use canned borlotti beans. Just rinse them and add to the barbunya pilaki towards the end, once carrots are cooked and onion is soft (you can add the beans at the last 10 mins of cooking) – afiyet olsun!
this was gooooood , wonderful !!!
Glad you enjoyed it Maria, afiyet olsun!
I am following your blog from Prague and would like to thank you for wonderful recipies. Everything what I cooked was delicious including this pilaki 🙂 Thank you and looking forward new inspirations.
Merhaba dear Kristina,
Many thanks for your kind note, really happy to hear you enjoy my recipes here; look forward to sharing more ideas; enjoy gorgeous Prague, best wishes, Ozlem
Merhaba Özlem hanım. I love your recipes because they are so close to my mother’s in style and seasoning. I also love barbunya, however whereas you mention that barbunya pilaki has garlic in it, I don’t see garlic being listed in the ingredients. Barbunya is wonderful with or without garlic, but I prefer with. Best regards.
Merhaba dear Hasan, many thanks for your kind note, so glad you’re enjoying my recipes here – they’re being close to your mother’s is a huge compliment as i know how special they are 🙂 I generally add garlic to Zeytinyaglis, I haven’t added at this occasion but I am sure it will be a so delicious, a clove or two would be so wonderful, thank you for pointing out. Kind Regards, Ozlem
We made it with the kids!
Delighted to hear dear Rana, Afiyet Olsun!
I’ve been a vegetarian for one or two decades and a salt-oil-sugar free vegan for six years… so, how did I not discover Cranberry/Barlotti/Barbunya beans till after I was sixty years of age? I guess part of it was that in the US, they come at a hefty premium.
I made this terrific dish in my InstantPot electric pressure cooker, and yes, adding a squeeze of lemon at the table brightens up the flavors of an already delicious dish.
Thanks for sharing this dish… it’s going into the rotation, for sure.
Thank you so much for your kind note, I am delighted that you enjoyed Borlotti beans cooked this way in my recipe – it is one of dear belated father’s favourite too and I shall be making for his memory this weekend. Flavours get even better as the dish sits in the fridge overnight, one of the most popular recipes in my cookery book.
Afiyet olsun and thank you again,
A question: I am using dried beans. I’ve soaked them and am now cooking them for 30 to 35 minutes as directed in the third step. However, in step 10, I’m asked to cook the beans again, with the vegetables, for 30 minutes. Is that correct? ThAnks, I’m looking forward to eating this as a side dish this evening!
Yes, you are also cooking the partially cooked beans with other veg at the next stage – do hope you enjoy it, Afiyet olsun, Ozlem
thanks for sharing!