Yung was one of my longer-serving colleagues in the Lab, and (along with Cassie) a key organiser of the annual culinary competition. We've been talking about and sharing food for over a decade, and I was confident that the unassuming kidney bean salad she submitted to the Lab Farewell Cookbook would be something special.
I'll come clean straight up and admit that I used canned and not dried kidney beans for the job. As I read through the recipe I was tempted to use ready-ground spices, too, but that would have been a mistake. The freshly toasted coriander, fennel and fenugreek brought a lot of life to this dish! There's also plenty more flavour to be had from three fresh herbs and a dousing of wine vinegar. This dish could easily be shared between two people for one meal, and I'll likely double all quantities to ensure generous leftovers in future.
We asked Yung what she likes to serve alongside her Georgian kidney bean salad, and her recommendations had my mouth watering:
...we often have it as part of a meal w other salad-y dishes like grilled eggplant rolls stuffed w labneh & roast capsicum or grilled zucchini topped with feta & and a drizzle of balsamic & olive oil or roast fennel topped w grated cheese. But always some good bread to accompany it.
A pattern of grilled/roasted vegetables with cheese, and bread on the side. We didn't end up researching more recipes from Georgia; instead I reinterpreted these features and made a cornbread stuffed with vegetables and herbs, and topped with cheese (recipe up next!).
Georgian kidney bean salad
(a recipe shared by Yung in the Lab Farewell Cookbook;
she adapted it from Olia Hercules' Mamushka)
200g dried red kidney beans (or 400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed)
1 small-medium onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
salt & pepper
1-2 tablespoons dill
1-2 tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
1-2 tablespoons coriander leaves and stem, chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
If you're using dried kidney beans, cover them in at least 8cm of water and soak them overnight. Drain the beans, put them in a saucepan and cover them in fresh cold water. Bring the beans to a boil, then simmer them for 35-50 minutes, until they achieve your preferred texture. Drain the beans.
Place the coriander, fennel and fenugreek seeds in a dry frypan and toast them over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer them to a mortar, add 1/4 teaspoon rock salt, and crush the spices to a powder with a pestle.
Heat the sunflower oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add the onions and fry them until they're soft and caramelised, at least 15 minutes. Add the cooked beans, pepper to taste, and the ground spices, stirring everything thoroughly.
Transfer the beans and onions to a serving bowl, and add the sugar, salt and wine vinegar to taste. When you're happy with the flavour balance in the dressing, stir through the fresh dill, parsley and coriander. Serve warm or cold.