Beauty / Wellbeing

How to make beans with cult food artist Laila Gohar

Laila Gohar Laila cooks beans technique pantry staples isolation cooking Semaine Happiness Newspaper

When Semaine's new project, The Happiness Newspaper, asked cult favourite chef-artist-designer Laila Gohar how to cook beans she was adamant that her contribution wasn't a recipe.  “Just a technique and what works for me.” It rings true for this creative with an instinctive approach to food. And an aesthetic sensibility that renders her Instagram feed almost (but not quite) as good as the real thing.

“I eat beans a lot - at least three times a week,” tells Gohar. “I think they’re the perfect food. I like all humble ingredients like potatoes or rice. But beans hold a special place in my heart. It’s important to soak your beans. Yes, you need to remember to do it a day ahead, but right now we all have time on our hands, if nothing else …”

As a pantry staple, beans have undoubtedly been a hero of isolation. But sometimes even old favourites could use a little extra inspiration, however simple. So here we present Laila Gohar's coveted beans technique, courtesy the Happiness Newspaper.



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What you'll need

Beans (dried)
Bay leaves
Half a head of garlic
Olive oil


What you need to do

Step one: Soak a cup of beans in lots of water overnight.

Step 2:
The next day use the soaking liquid plus more water if needed and submerge the beans in a large pot by at least a few inches.

Step 3:
Add a handful of bay leaf, half an onion, half a head of garlic, some parsley, and (to start) a tablespoon of salt, and 1/4 cup oil. Salt and fat are the most important things about cooking beans. The liquid needs to be salty. Taste it.

Step 4: Bring to boil and then gentle simmer for half an hour and test. Small beans take less time. I also like to add a little vinegar towards the end.

Step 5: Taste again towards the end. And add salt accordingly. I eat them with a bit more olive oil and lemon zest or aioli.



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Laila's favourite beans

Here are Laila's preferred varieties: Gigante, cannellini, scarlet runner and black bean.


Want to learn how to make Laila Gohar's potatoes too?

Look no further than this video directed by Ana Krâs.


Semaine's The Happiness Newspaper brings together tastemakers with workbooks and activities to keep you growing during isolation - with the opportunity to donate to the Trussell Trust to help families in need.