White Bean Stew with Coconut Milk

This recipe came about largely because in mid-November of last year I purchased a large and extremely attractive bunch of cilantro from the green market at Hmong Village in St. Paul. Not only did the cilantro have the thickest parts of the stems attached, it also had the roots. I used half the roots to make a fusiony beef short-rib curry and came up with this recipe to use up the rest along with the rest of the thick stems. If you can’t find coriander root near you, just use more of the cilantro stems—the flavours are not the same but it’ll make for a tasty variation. Another important ingredient here is one of my favourite beans carried by Rancho Gordo: alubia blanca. These small, white beans cook up very fast, even without soaking, and have a delicate flavour that goes really well with the flavours of the coconut milk and the green puree. And the creamy texture of the beans likewise matches the texture of the stew. Now, you might ask yourself if this is an Indian dish. I’m not aware of any traditional, regional dish that resembles this (though, as always, it’s a large country and I’ve only eaten a very small fraction of its foods), but as far as I’m concerned the approach is very Indian. You can categorize it as you like.


  • 1 packet/lb Rancho Gordo alubia blanca beans
  • 2 tez patta/dried cassia leaves/dried Indian “bay leaves”
  • 1 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
  • 3-5 dried red chillies
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots or chopped red onion
  • The following ground to a puree with enough water to make the blades move freely: 3 Thai chillies; 1 tspn’s worth of fresh garlic; 1 tspn’s worth of fresh ginger; 2 coriander roots; 1 cup thick cilantro stems
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 tblspn fish sauce
  • Freshly squeezed juice of half a lime
  • Several grindings of black pepper
  • 1 tblspn chopped dhania/cilantro
  • Salt
  • 2-3 tblspns neutral oil of choice


  1. Rinse one packet/lb of Rancho Gordo alubia blanca beans, add to your bean pot with enough water to cover by a few inches and bring to a boil for 10 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add 2 tez patta, cover and cook on a simmer till the beans are done. Use 3 cups of the cooked beans with 1 cup or so of the pot liquor for this recipe and reserve the rest for another use (maybe something like this).
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep saucepan and when it shimmers add the zeera.
  3. As soon as the zeera begins to darken and split, add the dried red chillies.
  4. As soon as the chillies turn glossy add the chopped shallot or onion and salt and saute till beginning to brown.
  5. Add the green puree, mix in and saute stirring often till reduced to a thick paste.
  6. Add the coconut milk, stir in and bring to a high simmer.
  7. Add the fish sauce, stir in and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add 3 cups of the cooked beans and 1 cup of the pot liquor, mix in and simmer for 5 minutes or so.
  9. Squeeze the lime juice into the pan, mix in and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  10. Turn the heat off, add the pepper and dhania, mix in lightly and serve in a bowl by itself or with toast.


  1. You are unlikely to find coriander root at a mainstream American grocery store. But if you have a large South/East Asian market near you, you’re likely to find it there. If you do use coriander root, make sure to clean it thoroughly to remove any soil—otherwise you’ll end up with a gritty stew.
  2. I used shallots here because I had a couple of large ones that I needed to use up. Red onion will be perfectly fine. The white portions of leeks might be even better.
  3. If you don’t have alubia blanca beans, Rancho Gordo’s ayocote blanco, cassoulet, Marcella or even large white lima beans will work fine. I can’t personally picture the royal coronas in this dish but that may be just me.
  4. Leave out the fish sauce to make this both vegetarian and vegan. Or I suppose you could sub soy sauce or tamari or a vegan substitute that provides a salty/umami boost.
  5. Yes, there’s a Reel.



11 thoughts on “White Bean Stew with Coconut Milk

  1. No comment on the dish itself as I haven’t made it, but the information that cilantro roots are not only edible but have a distinctive, and apparently, pleasing flavor is both welcome and a little disheartening, when I think of how many I’ve thrown out. Will be adding them to my next curry. Thank you for this info.


  2. I made this dish tonight and it was fabulous! An unusual but delicious way to eat beans. I did not have time to hunt down cilantro root, I just used stems from regular bunches of cilantro. Only adjustment I made was only one green Thai chili pepper and only one dried Chili de Arbol since I like the heat in a dish to be less intense. I used Rancho Gordo Tarbais beans since I had a bag on hand. It was perfect. If you like southeast Asian/ Indian food this hits the spot. I served with warm chapati. Mmmm. Thanks for the great recipe!


  3. Saw this in the Rancho Gordo newsletter and made it tonight. I skipped the Thai chiles and substituted half a Fresno chili I happened to have left over, but otherwise made it as written. Very tasty! I’m thinking I may throw a handful of chopped kale into the leftovers when I reheat them, for color and nutrition.


  4. I found this in the Rancho Gordo newsletter, had the alubia blanca beans on hand and made it today. It is stupendous. Like others, I didn’t have cilantro roots so just used a lot of thick cilantro stems. I also added about a cup and half of chopped leaves (stems removed) of Tuscan kale that I had on hand. Served over a slice of super toasted crusty whole wheat bread. Ate it with a knife and fork. 10 out of 10. Thank you.


  5. You have yet to let me down! The flavor was fresh like Spring, so while I’m very tempted to use the extra beans for the cauliflower recipe, I also want to try the stew with leeks.


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