Loubia: Moroccan Stewed White Beans

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Moroccan Stewed White Beans. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
  • 75 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (19)

If you think beans are something to buy in a can or that they must be baked with brown sugar to taste good, then it's high time you tried Moroccan loubia, or stewed white beans. This classic, flavorful dish is much loved in Moroccan homes, where traditionally the beans and zesty tomato-based sauce are scooped up with Moroccan bread. It's comfort food that stands alone as an entree, but it also works well a welcome side, particularly to fried fish dinners.

Make the Moroccan stewed white beans as spicy as you like—the measurements below are guidelines and I do use slightly more—but don't be shy on the seasoning as you'll want enough of those Moroccan spices to yield a characteristically robust sauce. Olive oil provides another key flavor, along with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs. Take the heat up a notch by adding a chili pepper or cayenne, and consider adding beef or lamb (see the tips below).

Please note that this recipe calls for dried beans, which do require overnight soaking in ample water. Plan ahead so that you remember to soak the beans the night before cooking.

The cooking time is for preparation in a pressure cooker, which is regarded as essential cookware in Moroccan kitchens. Allow double this time if you'll be stewing the beans in a conventional pot.

What You'll Need

  • 500 g (about 1 lb.) dry white haricot or Cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

How to Make It

To make the loubia, choose one of these two cooking methods.

Pressure Cooker Method for Making Loubia: 

  1. Mix all ingredients in a pressure cooker
  2. Add 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of water, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover, bring to pressure, then cook on pressure over medium heat for about 40 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  4. If the beans are still submerged in sauce, reduce the liquids until the sauce is thick and not watery.
  1. Adjust the seasoning if desired, and serve.

Pot Method for Making Loubia: 

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Add 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of water, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover and simmer the beans over medium heat for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick and no longer watery.
  4. If the liquids reduce too much during cooking, add a little water to prevent the beans from burning.
  5. Adjust the seasoning if desired, and serve.

Note that the beans should be quite saucy at serving time. The beans will continue to absorb liquid as they sit, so allow for this if preparing the beans in advance for later serving. 

More Tips for Loubia

  • White beans can certainly be eaten with a spoon, but they're also very good scooped up like a dip with crusty bread.
  • If you want to add lamb or beef, brown the meat (cubed or in 2" pieces) in the oil and then proceed with the directions as described.
  • Refrigerate leftovers once the beans have cooled completely. If necessary, add a little water when reheating and use no more than medium heat to avoid scorching.