Grah – Balkan bean stew

Grah - balkan bean stew

When two of my friends announced they’d be moving to Herceg Novi, Montenegro for several months this year, I was excited for them and thrilled at the opportunity to visit them in a new part of world. After they settled in, started with the language, and began making local friends, I booked my flight to Dubrovnik. I ordered a Serbo-Croatian phrasebook and I started reading about cultural and culinary traditions, politics, and the history of the region. My friends arranged for me to rent a studio apartment in their building, with a balcony overlooking the Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic Sea. For our visit to Dubrovnik, they booked a furnished flat, and we got a kitschy and fun Jimi Hendrix themed place for a few days on the hillside overlooking the old city.

Admittedly, the West Balkans aren’t always among the world’s most convenient countries for vegetarian and vegan eating habits, but the offerings of fantastic fruit trees, local vegetables, and great bakeries made for many good eats and great times. Also, at all of the restaurants I visited, everyone was understanding, helpful, and quick to suggest existing, modified, or even newly invented menu options from the kitchen. At “home”, I ate fairly simple: including things like buckwheat with apples and local cherry jam, local fresh bread, steamed kale and broccoli, raw carrots, olives and roasted red peppers, fresh orange juice, and pomegranates we’d picked from trees in the countryside and little towns.

This recipe for Grah – Balkan Bean Stew was inspired by our visit to Nishta vegetarian restaurant in the Old Town (Stari Grad) of Dubrovnik. Traditionally, along with beans, vegetables, and lots of paprika, Grah is usually made with a few ingredients I choose not to eat, so it was great to have it at a vegetarian restaurant. Of course, it would’ve been even better if I’d been served it at someone’s home! This hearty dish is quick and easy, can be modified in many ways to your liking, and goes with all kinds of things.

Hvala puno!

Balkan bean stew

serves 3 to 4 / time 35 min

updated (2021) recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – WORLD 2.0
(Rezept auf Deutsch unten)

  • 2 cups (14 oz / 400 g) white beans (cooked)
  • 7 oz (200 g) vegan sausage, seitan, or smoked tofu chopped
  • 5–8 medium (100 g) mushrooms chopped
  • 1 medium (100 g) tomato chopped
  • 1 medium (90 g) onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika ground
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1 Tbs corn starch or 1 Tbs flour
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes or 1 Tbs vegetable broth powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt more as needed
  • fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onion and garlic. Fry, stirring constantly, until onions are browned, 3–4 min.
  3. Stir in ground smoked paprika and black pepper. Continue to fry until onions soften, another 2–3 min. 
  4. Add chopped mushrooms, tomato, vegan sausage or seitan or smoked tofu, and bay leaves. Mix well. Cook partially covered, stirring often, 2–3 min.
  5. Stir in cooked beans. Mix well, cook 2–3 min.
  6. Stir in 1 cup (240 ml) water. Simmer on low 5 min.
  7. In a bowl, whisk corn starch (or flour) and 1/2 cup (120 ml) water. Gradually stir into simmering stew. Simmer until thickened, stirring often, 2–3 min.
  8. Mix in nutritional yeast (or vegetable broth powder) and salt. Continue to simmer another 10–15 min, gradually stirring in remaining 1/2 cup (120 ml) water (or more) as needed. Cover and remove from heat.
  9. Adjust salt to taste. Garnish with parsley and more sprinkled paprika. Serve with bread.


Vegetables: Along with (or instead of) mushrooms, add chopped carrots, red pepper, and/or more tomato.

The Lotus and the Artichoke - WORLD 2.0 Vegan Cookbook cover

Dubrovnik: Stari Grad (Old Town) - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Dubrovnik: View from Stari Grad (Old Town) - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Montenegro: Village on a Hill - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Grah - balkan bean stew

Bohneneintopf aus dem Balkan

3 bis 4 Portionen / Dauer 35 Min.

Neues (2021) Rezept aus The Lotus and the Artichoke – WORLD 2.0

  • 2 Tassen (400 g) weiße Bohnen (gekocht)
  • 200 g vegane Wurst, Seitan oder Räuchertofu gehackt
  • 5–8 mittelgroße (100 g) Champignons gehackt
  • 1 mittelgroße (100 g) Tomate gehackt
  • 1 mittelgroße (90 g) Zwiebel gehackt
  • 2 Knoblauchzehen fein gehackt
  • 2 EL Pflanzenöl
  • 2 TL geräuchertes Paprikapulver
  • 1/2 TL schwarzer Pfeffer gemahlen
  • 2 Lorbeerblätter
  • 2 Tassen (480 ml) Wasser
  • 1 EL Speisestärke oder 1 EL Mehl
  • 2 EL Hefeflocken oder 1 EL Gemüsebrühpulver
  • 3/4 TL Salz bei Bedarf mehr
  • frische Petersilie gehackt, zum Garnieren
  1. Öl in einem großen Topf auf mittlerer Flamme erhitzen.
  2. Zwiebel und Knoblauch hineingeben und 3 bis 4 Min. unter Rühren anschwitzen, bis die Zwiebel gebräunt ist.
  3. Paprikapulver und schwarzen Pfeffer einrühren. Weitere 2 bis 3 Min. braten, bis die Zwiebel weich ist.
  4. Champignons, Tomate, vegane Wurst oder Seitan oder Räuchertofu und Lorbeerblätter einrühren.
    2 bis 3 Min. halb abgedeckt unter häufigem Rühren schmoren.
  5. Gekochte Bohnen hinzufügen, gut umrühren und 2 bis 3 weitere Min. schmoren.
  6. 1 Tasse (240 ml) Wasser einrühren und 5 Min. auf niedriger Flamme köcheln lassen.
  7. Stärke oder Mehl und 1/2 Tasse (120 ml) Wasser in einer kleinen Schüssel verrühren. Nach und nach unter den köchelnden Eintopf rühren. Grah 2 bis 3 Min. unter Rühren köcheln lassen, bis er eindickt.
  8. Hefeflocken oder Gemüsebrühpulver und Salz einrühren. Weitere 10 bis 15 Min. köcheln, dabei nach und nach die restliche 1/2 Tasse (120 ml) Wasser oder bei Bedarf mehr unterrühren. Abdecken und vom Herd nehmen.
  9. Abschmecken und auf Wunsch nachsalzen. Mit frischer gehackter Petersilie und Paprikapulver garnieren und mit frischem Brot servieren.


Mehr Gemüse: Zusammen mit oder anstelle der Pilze gehackte Möhre, Paprika und/oder mehr Tomate zugeben.

The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegane Rezepte eines Weltreisenden WORLD 2.0 veganes Kochbuch