From Beirut to London in 100 Dishes

Fasoulieh Bil Lahmeh — Butter Beans with Lamb Cutlets


 I think I may have learnt the basics of cooking through beans.  That’s partly because they play such a big part in home cooking in Lebanon.  I remember my father bringing home various varieties of beans.  We would remove them from their pods if they were fresh.  I would then try to copy what my mother or grandmother made.  I would have long conversations on the phone with my mother while she was out working and I was in our small kitchen — a little prisoner in my parents’ apartment.  She would explain the steps that were needed to turn the beans and rice into something delicious.  The best known and most expensive type of beans used for this recipe in Lebanon are called Aisha Khanoum.   I am not sure why, but it sounds like a hangover from the days when Lebanon was under the Ottomans.  My father was very pleased recently when he could show my husband rows of Aisha Khanoum beans in an upmarket shop in Beirut.  But he was shocked by the price — and didn’t buy them.  This is a picture instead.


It is somewhat ironic to me that in London now, this very simple food — beans and pulses — has become the height of fashion for healthy food.



500g of cooked butter beans jar

8 pieces of lamb cutlets 

1 onion diced

5 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped

2 large spoons of vegetable oil 

4 glasses of hot water 

2 tea spoons of salt

1 tea spoon pepper 

1 tea spoon of cinnamon

4 tomatoes diced

2 tea-spoons of sun dried tomato

1 bunch of coriander washed and chopped roughly


  • In a large pot heat the vegetable oil and add the onion and garlic and fry until soft
  • Add the lamb cutlets and cook for 5 minutes on each side
  • Then add hot water, salt, pepper and cinnamon and cover the pot with the lid
  • Once the sauce starts to boil reduce the heat to minimum and leave to simmer for half an hour or until the cutlets are very tender
  • Once ready remove the butter beans from the jar and wash, then add to the cutlets
  • If the water is not covering the beans please add more hot water
  • Then add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and coriander leaves
  • Cover with the lid and leave to simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Serve hot on a bed of vermicelli rice.


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