Borlotti beans in olive oil (burbunya pilaki)

Burbunya pilaki is a popular Turkish dish of fresh borlotti (burbunya) beans stewed in olive oil with vegetables. Borlotti beans are pretty pink speckled beans that lose the markings when cooked. They are similar in taste to chestnuts and are very nutritious. Dried or canned borlotti beans can be used instead of fresh ones, as in this recipe.

Borlotti beans in olive oil are generally served at room temperature with parsley and lemon as part of a meze selection with bread or as a side dish with fish or meat. They also make an excellent vegetarian main course served hot.

When you next see fresh borlotti beans at the markets remember this recipe as it is particularly good when made with fresh beans. You will need 700g beans in pods to yield about 350g shelled beans for this recipe. Fresh beans can be cooked in the dish with the other vegetables. You can freeze them too.

Serve the beans with other meze dishes such as carrot and yoghurt dip (yoghurtlu havuc).

Photography by Diana Lampe and  Andrew Taylor

Serves 8


  • 250g (1 1/4 cups) dried borlotti, (soaked overnight), or 2 x 400g cans of borlotti beans, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium potato, cubed (optional)
  • 1 light-green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped and/or 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon to serve


  • Pick through the dried beans and discard any debris and broken or discoloured beans. Cover generously with water and leave to soak overnight.
  • Drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Place beans in a saucepan with the bay leaf and plenty of fresh water without salt. Bring to the boil and skim the froth as it rises, partly cover and simmer until the beans are tender. Add salt when the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan with the onion, carrot, garlic, potato and light-green pepper (if using) and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and/or tomato paste, sugar and plenty of pepper. Cook for five minutes and then add one cup of water and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Add the drained beans and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust.
  • At serving time mix half the parsley through the beans and sprinkle the rest over the top to garnish. Serve at room temperature with lemon wedges and Turkish bread.

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