Fasulia bil zait recipe


     The sense of smell is closely linked to our memories. It is amazing how a certain scent can trigger a childhood memory, like climbing a walnut tree or being with family in the summer house. Just like a scent does to our memories so does the taste of one morsel, triggering long forgotten warm recollections that take us back in time to a certain place at a certain moment. Fasoulia bil zait, or vegetarian green beans, has the same effect on me. A taste of this teleports me to my grandmother’s Mamlouki house in the old quarters of Damascus. She was a vegetarian, and probably the only vegetarian of her time. Much of her cooking was vegetarian based, even though she did cook with meat, for others though and not herself. Back then we all ate seasonal foods; dishes were based on the season and what mother earth provided. Fasoulia (green beans) is a summer crop, and so is considered a summer dish. In the Levantine cuisine, there are two ways of preparing this; with meat as a stew or vegetarian using olive oil. In the Levant, the names of most vegetarian dishes are annexed to the term "bil zait" which means "in oil" or cooked in oil. Vegetarian dishes are cooked in olive oil; hence fasulia bil zait. Olive oil vegetarian Levantine dishes are considered a mezze alongside hummus, mutabal, babaganouge and many more. It can be eaten at room temperature or cold, but surely indulged in with the help of Arabic bread (pita), sliced raw onions, and green bell peppers. I love happy memories and that is why I love this dish. A morsel of this dish bring a smile to my face and twinkle to my eyes as it takes me back to eating with the family under the shade of the big lemon tree back when I was a care free child.

As the case is with many Damascene vegetarian dishes, for some reason, this one tastes much better the next day, and can last in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is so easy to prepare with a handful of simple ingredients, so why not make a big batch and consume it as part of the Ramadan spread.

It is high in fiber, very low in calories and fool proof.



Servings: 1 sharing style

  • 500 grams green beans, cut in half

  • 1 cup onion, chopped fine

  • 1 tin stewed tomatoes or 450 grams fresh tomatoes*

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 cup water

  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder


1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped onions. Fry for 2 minutes until translucent.


2. Add the green beans, salt and pepper and stir the beans around for a couple of minutes.


3. Add the tomatoes, water and coriander powder, stir and cook covered on medium heat for 20 minutes if a crunchy finish is desired otherwise 30 minutes if a softer texture is desired. Adjust the seasoning. Serve warm or cold.


4. If the water has evaporated and the beans are not yet cooked to your liking, simply add a 1/4 cup of water at a time.


If using fresh tomatoes, leave them in boiling water until cooled, peel as seen in the picture, deseed and chop.


Per Serving: 695 Calories; 55g Fat (67.0% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 19g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 203mg Sodium.