I fancy myself to be somewhat knowledgeable about world geography and international cuisine. I’m not an expert by any means, but I can at least hold my own at cocktail parties with a glass of something bubbly in my hand while in conversations about ethnic eats, and foods that sound best said with an accentuated accent. Olé! Oui Oui! Danke!
But I have to admit, when Sarah proposed that this month’s recipe feature East Timor, I wasn’t sure if she meant a country, an ingredient or the dish itself.
Thank you once again, Mother Google.
Turns out, East Timor is indeed a place. In fact it’s an island and a country since 2002, after declaring independence from Indonesia, in Southeast Asia situated not far from another country I’ve visited (Thailand) and more I have deep desires to visit (Vietnam and Singapore.)
With a relatively poor population, East Timor’s cuisine is humble and basic but like this Batar Da’an dish, surprisingly flavorful.
Batar Da’an is a veg-heavy stew that can be pulled together stem to stern quickly (only 20 minutes simmering time) and works as well as a side dish, or a main meal.
Typically farmed ingredients like corn, garlic, onions and beans are central to this dish and simmered with either chunky pumpkin or butternut squash, with simple salt and pepper for seasonings.
This dish is traditionally made with mung beans, but I opted for Great Northern white beans instead. More protein, and I like the flavor and texture more too.
A generous heaping of roughly chopped cilantro adds color and an essential layer of fresh flavor. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, Italian parsley or fresh mint would fill in this field of flavor.
I made this batch and ate it for the entire week for a healthy, super low-fat lunch. I served mine with one of my favorite grain short cuts: Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice with Garlic ready to heat rice and grain blends. I buy them at Costco in bulk so healthy eating in a hurry is always at hand. Traditionally it’s served with white rice, but quinoa, farro or brown rice would give it a hearty—and filling—whole foods change up.
Vegan and gluten-free
lightly adapted from this recipe
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds, peeled, seeded and chopped in small cubes
1 15 ounce can Great Northern white beans or white kidney beans
3 cups frozen corn
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Quinoa, brown rice, white rice or farro for serving
Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn’t brown or it will become bitter. Stir in the onions then lower the heat to medium and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions becomes tender.
Add the squash, beans, corn, and the stock and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the squash is tender. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Top with cilantro leaves and serve with quinoa, brown rice, white rice or farro.
Thanks so much for sharing, Heidi! Have any of you guys been lucky enough to visit East Timor?