Kuru Fasulye (Turkish White Bean Stew): The National Dish of Turkey

Kuru fasulye is one of the most indispensable items of Turkish cuisine. One can observe kuru fasulye as the main dish of the at-home dinners, or you can see kuru fasulye in the restaurants. Kuru fasulye is a typical homemade meal and is often referred to as the national dish of Turkey. There are various ways to cook kuru fasulye, for every taste.

You might be familiar with some of the items in the Turkish cuisine such as döner or kebab and wonder, is there nothing that does not have meat in the center? Kuru fasulye comes in handy at this point, since it allows you to taste delicious Turkish food parallel to your nutrition style.

What is Kuru Fasulye?

Kuru fasulye is a traditional Turkish dish that is made with stewed beans and other ingredients. Kuru fasulye can be made in various styles, but a typical kuru fasulye includes tomato paste, onions, and olive oil. You can see various kinds of kuru fasulye, with meat or even with pastrami.

As mentioned earlier, kuru fasulye can be made for different diet styles. If you are vegan, you can prefer kuru fasulye without meat, and since olive oil is used as an oil it is completely safe to say that your meal is vegan. If you are eating kuru fasulye out, do not forget to ask which type of oil they will be using on your meal since sometimes kuru fasulye also can be made with butter.

Etymology, Origin, and the History of Kuru Fasulye

If translated directly, kuru fasulye means “dry beans” in English. Yet, the type of beans used in kuru fasulye cannot be just any type of kuru fasulye, only white beans must be used. In Turkey, as you say “kuru fasulye”, everyone will understand that you are talking about white beans.

The word “fasulye” (beans) is originated from the Greek word “fasulia”, which means “known vegetable”.  The reason for the word “kuru” (which means dry in English) in front of fasulye is because the beans are dried.

In the 19th century, fasulye was also known as “börülce” (which means kidney bean in English). Kuru fasulye is known to be present for over 250 years in Turkey.

Beans are known to be first found in Central America and spread to Anatolia and Europe after the discovery of America. Yet the found beans on this island were found in a grave that was from the 4th century BC. This finding refutes the idea of beans coming to Anatolia in the 17th century.

Kuru Fasulye in Turkish Cuisine

Kuru fasulye is a big part of Turkish cuisine. Kuru fasulye is considered as a “homemade meal”, and even though you can find kuru fasulye in restaurants nowadays, it is typically in restaurants that serve homemade meals. If you stay in a Turkish family’s home for a while, the chances of kuru fasulye not being the main dish of a meal are quite low.

Kuru fasulye is generally preferred as lunch or dinner. It is a healthy dish since it has vegetables and mostly healthy oils. Kuru fasulye is typically served with rice or brown rice. In fact, kuru fasulye and rice is a super duo in Turkey. They go really well together and complete each other. Some prefer to serve kuru fasulye and rice on the same plate. This could be in two ways, either by putting the rice on the plate first and putting the kuru fasulye over it or placing them next to each other on a plate. They are also served on different plates as well.

Even though kuru fasulye includes onions within, some like to consume kuru fasulye with additional onion on the side. There is nothing fancy about it – just taking a few bites from the onion after you have a spoon of kuru fasulye. Do not judge until you try it out.

Other sides with kuru fasulye are not as indispensable as rice but are commonly preferred. Pickles are a popular option to consume with kuru fasulye, in addition to radish. Cacık (tzatziki, it is also known as yogurt-cucumber and is a traditional side dish that is made with yogurt, cucumber, and cloves of garlic) is another popular side dish to consume with kuru fasulye. Some prefer just consuming plain yogurt with kuru fasulye as well.

Those were the popular foods to consume with kuru fasulye, yet you can always get creative. Basically, you can try anything that you think will go well with kuru fasulye. Some prefer ayran (yogurt drink) whereas some prefer soda.

Kuru Fasulye Variations in Turkish Cuisine

Even though the main items in kuru fasulye are indispensable from the kuru fasulye dish, you can observe some variations of kuru fasulye in Turkish cuisine. 

One of the kuru fasulye variations is kuru fasulye with sujuk. People in Turkey loves sujuk and you can see lots of food that includes sujuk, and of course, two popular food in Turkey must have come together at some point. Kuru fasulye with sujuk is the same as kuru fasulye, the only difference is the addition of sujuk as you can guess.

Kuru fasulye with meat is another variation of kuru fasulye, yet at this point, no one is sure whether if kuru fasulye with meat is a variation of kuru fasulye or kuru fasulye is a variation of kuru fasulye with meat. Typically, cubed meat is used in kuru fasulye with meat.

Another variation of kuru fasulye is kuru fasulye with pastrami (a kind of bacon that is made by veal). Like in other variations of kuru fasulye, kuru fasulye with pastrami is made with the addition of pastrami to kuru fasulye.

Kuru Fasulye Recipe

As I mentioned earlier, there are different ways to prepare kuru fasulye. It can be with or without meat, and with or without onions. Yet, a typical kuru fasulye recipe for 4 people can be written as follows:

You will need 4 tablespoons of liquid oil of your choice, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 middle-sized dried onion, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 500 grams of dried beans, 3 glasses of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and half a tablespoon of powdered red pepper. Keep in mind that the dried beans you will use must rest in water overnight.

First, you need to put the 4 tablespoons of liquid oil and 2 tablespoons of butter into a pot. As the oil and the butter get hot, put the onions that are sliced in cube shapes into the pot and roast them until they get a pinkish color. After you are done roasting the onions, put the 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and stir until the smell of it goes away. Then, add the beans to the pot and stir for a couple of minutes.

Lastly, you need to add the 3 glasses of water, a teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of powdered red pepper to let them cook together until beans get soft. Afiyet Olsun!

Kuru Fasulye in Other Cuisines

Even though kuru fasulye is considered the national dish of Turkey, you can see kuru fasulye in various parts of the world. Especially kuru fasulye is a famous dish in Morocco. Different from Turkey, kuru fasulye is typically consumed as a starter in Morocco with fish. Since Morocco cuisine is characterized by spices, kuru fasulye in Morocco is a lot spicier than kuru fasulye in Turkey.

In Greece, you can observe a quite similar dish to kuru fasulye, which is named fasolada. Fasolada is referred to as fasoulada or fasolia sometimes. Different from Turkish kuru fasulye, the fasolada of Greece is a type of soup. Sometimes Lima beans are used instead of white beans in fasolado, which is another difference between Turkish kuru fasulye and Greek fasolado.

A similar dish to kuru fasulye is named fagiolata in Italy, feijoada in Portugal and Brazil, fasoda in Spain, and fasoulia in its Arabic version.  

Health Benefits of Kuru Fasulye

As I mentioned earlier, kuru fasulye is considered a healthy dish. The following are some of the health benefits of kuru fasulye.

  • Kuru fasulye is high in protein and low in calories, which helps you to lose weight in a healthy way.
  • Some doctors state that kuru fasulye lessens the vascular occlusions.
  • Kuru fasulye helps your body to strengthen the bones with the support of calcium and protein.
  • Kuru fasulye regulates your stomach activities.
  • Since kuru fasulye helps to strengthen your bones, it lessens the possibility of osteoclasts in old ages.

Are there any side effects of overeating kuru fasulye?

Even though kuru fasulye has lots of health benefits, excess use of it may result in bad situations for your health. For instance, consuming excessive amounts of kuru fasulye may result in stored gas in your bowels. Additionally, pregnant women must be extra careful while consuming kuru fasulye since overeating kuru fasulye might affect the children as well. Breastfeeding moms also need to be careful because kuru fasulye can pass to the baby through breast milk, and hence baby can suffer from stomachache and gas.

Frequently asked questions about kuru fasulye

Up to this point, you might be curious about this traditional Turkish dish. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about kuru fasulye.

What are the main ingredients of kuru fasulye?

The main ingredients of kuru fasulye are white beans, tomato paste, and oil.

What are the other variations of kuru fasulye?

Kuru fasulye with sujuk, kuru fasulye with meat, kuru fasulye with bacon could be listed among the variations of kuru fasulye.

How can I make vegan kuru fasulye?

Since the only non-vegan ingredient in plain kuru fasulye is butter, you can use plant-based oils to make your dish completely vegan.

What are the most preferred side dishes and appetizers for kuru fasulye?

Rice, brown rice, pickles, and radish are among the most preferred foods to consume with kuru fasulye. Besides, some people prefer salads to eat with kuru fasulye.

Is kuru fasulye healthy?

According to professionals, yes, and since the nutrition values of kuru fasulye are pretty good for your health, it can be considered a healthy dish. Yet if you overconsume it, of course, it can have other consequences like it would be in overconsuming every other dish.

What countries other than Turkey have kuru fasulye in their cuisines?

Even though named differently, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia are among countries that have a similar dish to kuru fasulye.

Is kuru fasulye a part of Turkish cuisine or Greek cuisine?

Kuru fasulye is a part of Turkish cuisine. The similarity between Greek fasolada and Turkish kuru fasulye might confuse some people.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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