Bosnian or Balkan bean stew (grah or pasulj) is a super hearty, stick to your ribs kind of a comfort meal. The base of the recipe has been passed down for generations but no two recipes are alike. Every region, every city has their own version of GRAH. But any way you make it, people will come.
Let me show you.
The traditional way of cooking Bosnian Bean Stew involves 1 pound of dried white beans (northern/ cannellini) or pinto beans. But this method takes 24 hours. You have to soak the beans, rinse, cook, and repeat the process to break them down enough for consumption. While it is the best way to make this traditional meal, it’s not always ideal. Which is why I use canned beans. It saves me a ton of time and in my opinion, it tastes just as good.
Bosnian Bean Stew
- 3 15oz cans of drained/ rinsed canned cannellini beans
- 1 lb of beef, stew meat, cubed
- 2 small carrots, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small piece of smoked meat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic loves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley, dry or fresh
- 3 tsp of sweet paprika
- 3 tbsp of tomato sauce
- 2 tsps of salt, but will probably need more to taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 4 tbsp of flour
- 3 teaspoons of paprika
Now let’s make it.
- Start off with a large pot over medium heat.
- Add your olive oil, chopped onion and carrots. Let them soften up until the onions become translucent.
- Add your garlic and cubed beef. Turn the heat up to high and cook until the meat is brown. You want those brown bits for a deep, rich flavor.
- Add paprika, salt, pepper, parsley and a 2 inch piece of suho meso or sudzuka (smoked* piece of meat) and tomato sauce. *The smoked piece of meat is not necessary but it adds ton of flavor. However, you can add a couple of slices of smoked sausage instead. But if you do that, wait until the last 30 minutes. So they don’t overcook.
- Add 7 cups of water. It may seem like a lot, but it will cook down.
- Add your bay leaf and bring to a boil.
- Now turn down the heat to low, cover and let is simmer for 40 minutes.
- At around 40 minutes, add your rinsed canned beans and take out the bay leaves. Let it cook for another 15 minutes.
- Start your roux.
- Over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add 3 tablespoons of oil.
- Slowly add 4 tablespoons of flour and then 3 teaspoon of sweet Hungarian paprika. Whisk for 1 minute on low.
- Very carefully remove the lid of your bean stew and whisk in the roux.
- Cover again, on low, and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Just for all of the flavors to combine and the stew to thicken up.
- Right before you serve it, try for salt. Add if needed.
- Let it cool down for a bit, then serve and enjoy.
We love to serve this with traditional, homemade Bosnian bread but any fresh bread will do. Add a pickled cabbage salad, beets or hot peppers on the side and you have yourself a traditional Bosnian meal.
If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Please give it a try and let me know what you think.