Culture & Traditions

White Beans in the Field, Delicacy at the Table

There is no person, Macedonian or foreign, who has not tried the top national dish called “tavce gravce” (beans in a skillet). This delicious meal can be found in every traditional eatery in the country, from the most prestigious restaurant to the grill kiosk. Cooked in a clay pot it can be seen slowly cooking for hours on the margins of the grill spreading its typical bean aroma mixed with traditional spices.

The culinary miracle is, of course, based on a demanding cooking process. The beans are washed and soaked in cold water for a few hours to soften (a gourmand would soak them overnight). After that the cooking process starts. After the beans come to a boil, the water is thrown away to reduce the forming of gases during digestion. Then fresh water and chopped onions and red peppers are added. More onion, black pepper and other spices are fried separately and added to the beans. After almost two hours of cooking, all the ingredients are transferred to a clay pot. Then the dish is finished off by baking in the oven making sure it does not dry out or become too moist. Depending on the size and style of the restaurant as well as the number of guests, a bigger pot or smaller single portion pots can be chosen for the preparation of this dish. Given how long and demanding the cooking process is, it is no wonder that tavce gravce is the side dish of choice with all types of grilled and roasted meats. But it also goes down smoothly with fried fish or with pinjur as a starter, with homemade bread and white cheese, it is also suitable for vegetarians and those who are on a religious fast. Read more …