Spicy brown beans (Suriname)

Suriname is the smallest country in South America, located on its northeastern coast. very close to the equator. It is a former colony of the Netherlands and Dutch remains the official language. The population is only about 560,000, most of whom live in the north of the country. The largest ethnic group is Hindustanis from India, with Amerindians only forming a tiny minority. 80 % of the country consists of rainforest with very little inhabitation. Bauxite is the cornerstone of the economy. The Surinamese drive on the left side, even though the Dutch drive on the right.

The Surinamese cuisine has been heavily influenced by India and Indonesia and to a lesser extent e.g. Dutch, Chinese, Creole, Jewish, West African and Portuguese cuisines. Here in the Netherlands there are tons of Surinamese-Indonesian restaurants, though most Surinamese restaurants serve very similar food to Indonesian restaurants. A typical dish is roti, a large flatbread eaten with a vegetable or meat curry. Other dishes are served with noodles or rice, often Indonesian style fried rice. Caribbean influences show in the use of beans, cassava, plantains, sweet potatoes and okra. Chicken, fish, pork, coconut, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, lentils and peanuts are also used a lot. Some Surinamese dishes, especially sauces, can be very spicy, often quite greasy too.

I chose this recipe from the magazine of the AH grocery store chain, because the spices sounded quite interesting. It was fairly tasty, but very “earthy”, so I’d recommend some very fresh/cool tasting dishes to accompany it, like a green salad, cucumber and/or something with lemon, the recipe recommends a sweet and sour cucumber salad.

Spicy brown beans

Surinamese brown beans

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
200 g/0.45 lbs vegetarian “bacon”
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp vegetarian “chicken” bouillon powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 dl/0.4 cup water
3 red chilis, chopped and seeds removed
1 large can brown beans, or 2.5 cups freshly cooked brown beans
40 g leaf celery, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and ginger for a few minutes. Add the “bacon”, tomato puree, tomatoes, bouillon powder, nutmeg and the water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chili, the beans and half of the leaf celery to the pan and simmer covered for 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with the rest of the leaf celery and serve hot with rice. Serves four.

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