I recently went along to the newly opened Dominion League bar situated where the Court Wine Bar was until last year. The Court was the original wine bar in Perth, long before the small bar revolution, and I spent many an hour there over the years – firstly when it was next to the family milk bar in the old Canterbury Court buildings, and then when it moved down the road near Trades Hall where it remained until it was closed. I remember with some fondness the great Macedonian village food prepared by Mrs Andonovski, mother of Philip and Trayn who ran the bar with panache and flair.
I was thinking as I sat in the Dominion League that I hadn’t had Graff – the amazing bean soup that was a regular order from me when I dined downstairs at the Court among the incredible array of wine in the purpose built racks in the restaurant – for quite a while; and as Mrs Andonovski’s kitchen had closed it was not likely I would anytime soon – not many Macedonian restaurants around, mores the pity.
So I set out to find a recipe and through the wonders of the internet found a few – all requiring soaking and cooking of white beans for hours – lazily I couldn’t wait, so thought about using canned beans as a shortcut – and with a few modifications to the recipes listed came up with my version – turned out very well; here is the recipe….one of these days I will make the “authentic’ variety using dried beans – but I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you haven’t had the pleasure of a bowl of Graff. A sprinkle of crushed chilli over the top if you like a little more heat adds a little zing…
- 2 cans of white beans – I used one of butter beans and one of cannellini beans
- 4 large dried chillies (de-seed if you prefer a milder version)
- 4 cloves of garlic (use West Australian, not that awful bleached stuff from China)
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 2 teaspoons of dried mint
- Olive oil
- Place chillies in large saucepan, together with garlic and bay leaf. Cover with 3L cold water and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. It should reduce a bit.
- Add beans, undrained, and bring back to boil cook for another 15 minutes; again it will reduce about a third. Take off heat.
- Remove chillies, peel away skin and discard, keeping soft chilli pulp.
- Brown onion in olive oil; add chilli pulp, and two tablespoons of mashed beans.
- Add paprika and fry for another minute. Add to the beans and water; return to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add dried mint; cook for another 5 minutes and it should be ready. Add salt to taste.
- A sprinkle of crushed chilli on top adds a touch more heat should you so desire. Serve with crusty bread and small bowl of yoghurt to swirl through