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Batar Da’an (Bean, Corn & Squash Stew)- East Timor

Batar Da’an is a cross between a soup and a stew. Although it seemed quite unexciting at first glance, it turned out to be a wonderful dish that is not only very easy to make, but inexpensive, flavorful and… vegan as well as gluten free! Go figure. We all loved it, Scott especially, noting that it was his favorite dish thus far. You can use dried beans and corn, but I was in a rush so I used canned beans and corn. This dish also had peanuts in it which gave it a very unique flavor. While it tasted great the first night, the flavors really melded together overnight – the peanut flavor became more subtle and the squash/pumpkin added an extra touch of sweetness the following day. I can’t tell you what would happen with another night because we gobbled it down in 2 days eating it for both lunch and dinner both days. For the second day, at dinner, we added a bit more water. It tasted nice like that too and the recipe that I watched with an East Timorese grandma making it seemed a bit more watery than my version. Apparently this is a dish that was originally made by the poorest of the poor who could not even afford rice (that should help put things in perspecitve). They would forrage and make the Batar Da’an with whatever they could find. This dish was loved because you could just add more water to feed more people. Nowadays, it appears that the dish has lost its stigma and has risen in popularity, probably due to nostalgia. While the recipe uses 1 pan to sautee onions and tomatoes and a pot for everything else, you could sautee the onions and tomatoes in the pot you make the Batar Da’an in first and then just add everything else after. Also, this dish has coconut milk which is actually optional but really adds a nice touch.


  • 6 C water
  • 15 oz kidney beans
  • 15 oz black beans
  • 15 oz corn
  • 1/4 C peanuts
  • 1 1/2 lbs pumpkin or butternut squash cubbed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 15 oz coconut milk
  • 1 large handful greens (spinach, kale, collard greens…)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)

Step by Step Directions

1. Add 6-8 cups of water to a large pot.
2. Drain beans and corn. Add to pot.
3. Add peanuts to pot.

Bring to a boil.
5. Chop onion and tomato while bean mixture
is cooking.

Add oil and onion to a pan.
Sautee until light brown and soft.

Add tomatoes and salt to onions.
Sautee until the tomatoes and onion
are both soft and melded.

8. While the onions are cooking,
add coconut milk to the beans.

When the tomatoes and onions are done,
add to the beans.
10.Mix and cook a few minutes.
I boiled the bean mixutre for 1 hour in all.
11.Top with greens (spinach, kale, bok choy…).

Recipe source/inspiration: Batar Da’an

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