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Recipe: Libyan beef, bean and cumin stew

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    This hearty winter dish - Lubia bel kammun - is a classic. Do use dried beans soaked in water overnight, so the beans slow-cook with the beef and the flavour of the two, together with the cumin and spices marry perfectly. The flavour develops and it tastes even better the next day.

    Serves: 4-6
    Preparation: 10-15 minutes plus overnight soaking of beans
    Cooking: 4 hours

    Ingredients
    ● 250g dried white cannellini beans
    ● 300g marrow bones, fresh or frozen
    ● Approx. 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
    ● 2 onions, finely chopped
    ● 2 tsp cumin
    ● 2 tsp sweet paprika
    ● 1-2 tsp harissa, according to taste
    ● 2 tsp ground cardamom
    ● 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    ● 1.2 kg cubed chuck beef
    ● 140g tomato purée
    ● Salt and pepper

    Method
    ● Soak the beans in cold water overnight or for at least 12 hours.
    ● Put the marrow bones in a large saucepan filled with 1.2 litres of cold water.
    ● Add a tablespoon of salt, cover, bring to the boil and skim off any foam. Once it boils reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, skimming off any more foam as necessary.
    ● Turn off the heat leaving the bones in the water.
    ● Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy base saucepan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes and then add the cumin, sweet paprika, harissa, cardamom, a teaspoon each of salt and ground black pepper.
    ● Cook for 10 minutes over low heat, then add the garlic, cook for another couple of minutes and add the beef.
    ● Sear the beef over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes then add the drained beans. Stir well and after a few minutes add the tomato purée. Stir and cover.
    ● After 10 minutes, add the marrow bones together with a couple of ladles of its cooking liquid - or stock.
    ● Cook on low heat, almost completely covered and stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours or until the beef is tender. Add the remaining stock half way through the cooking to keep the beef moist and for the beans to cook thoroughly.
    ● Serve with couscous or rice.

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