123. Macedonia: Tavche Gravche (Fancy Baked Beans)

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Macedonia a beautiful mixture of cultural contrasts. Part Balkan, part Mediterranean and rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history this combination makes Macedonia a fascinating country. Ohrid is the place to be in Macedonia. Best of all is that you can be skipping through historic monuments one minute and lying on a deck chair with your toes in the water of Lake Ohrid the next. The reconstruction of the capital Skopje following the 1963 earthquake was mainly conducted by the Polish architect Adolf Ciborowski, who had already planned the reconstruction of Warsaw after World War II. The plan turned Skopje into a modernist but grey city. At the end of the 2000s, the city center experienced profound changes. A highly controversial urban project, “Skopje 2014”, was adopted by the municipal authorities in order to give the city a more monumental and historical aspect, and thus to transform it into a proper national capital. Several neoclassical buildings destroyed in the 1963 earthquake were rebuilt, including the national theatre, and streets and squares were refurbished. Many other elements were also built, including fountains, statues, hotels, government buildings and bridges. The project has been criticised because of its cost and its historicist aesthetics.

Schermafbeelding 2018-06-09 om 13.18.52

Things you didn’t about Macedonia:

  • Alexander the Great, the once-king of the Kingdom of Macedonia was the world’s first conqueror, who extended an empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt.
  • Macedonia was one of the only countries during the break up of Yugoslavia to remain at peace throughout.
  • Kokino, to the north of the country, is one of the world’s oldest observatories, as recognized by NASA and dating back to the 19thcentury BC. It is inscribed on a Unesco “tentative” list of protection.
  • Skopje, the capital, is said to be seven thousand years old and was known in the Roman period as Scupi

This recipe is perfect if you’re having vegetarians or vegans over for dinner or just as a side dish. The spices are just right! and it’s great to eat with just a piece of toast. My best friend is a vegetarian, and she loved this because it is often hard to find something that is filling and easy to make!


  • 1 cup dry white beans
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few mint leaves
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Soak the beans for 6 hours in boiling water and ½ teaspoon of baking soda.

  2. Wash the beans and blanch in boiling water over high heat for 15 minutes. Drain.
  3. In a stewpot, sauté 2 garlic cloves in a quarter of the oil.
  4. Add a few slices of red and yellow peppers, half of the paprika, and one chili pepper. Pour the beans and ⅓ of chili powder. Salt. Cover tightly with water and cook 30 minutes over medium heat and 30 minutes on low heat.

  5. Once the beans are cooked, drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Put aside.
  6. In the second quarter oil, sauté the onions. Add salt, the second third of chili powder and the flour.
  7. Simmer for 10 minutes. Put aside.
  8. In the 3rd quarter oil, sauté the last two cloves of garlic, the remaining strips of bell peppers, the other half of paprika, and the second chili pepper for 15 minutes. Put aside.
  9. Preheat oven at 100 c.
  10. In an earthenware pot or a glass baking dish, add the fourth quarter of the oil in the bottom.
  11. Add all the above preparations in layers ending with beans on top.
  12. Cover with the reserved cooking liquid, sprinkle chopped cilantro and mint.
  13. Cover and bake for 3 hours.

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