Occasionally you come across a recipe with an entirely unfamiliar ingredient. I had this experience with sumac recently. Fortunately with google to guide me I found that sumac is a middle eastern spice which has been widely used for millenia. It has a slightly acidic lemony flavour.  It turns out that it was the flavour that I knew was missing, but couldn’t place, in my attempts to synthesise dishes I’d encountered in persian restaurants. I didn’t find it in local supermarkets, but the internet is a very useful place to buy spices which travel well (and cheaply) in the post. I bought mine from

butter beans in sumac

Butter beans in sumac and tomato sauce

Tonight’s tea involved a creation I will imaginatively call;
Butterbeans in tomato and sumac
as that’s pretty much what it was.
Approximate recipe goes:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1/2 clove elephant garlic (2 cloves normal garlic would be fine) (chopped)
c. 5 fresh tomatoes (chopped)
1 tbsp ground sumac
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 of a 450g tin of butter beans (drained)

Cook the garlic and onion in the oil til softened.
Add the other ingredients – cook til nice and hot.
Jobs a good ‘un.  Fed 2 as part of a meal

We had it with taboulleh (but wished we’d added some flat bread and feta!)

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