Close this search box.

Pancetta and Tomato Achaar Beans

Renée Robinson

Here is One Flavor-Packed Bowl of Stewed Beans!

Once again, I was in the mood for beans. As much as I love a bowl of beans that have been simply cooked in their own delicious broth, I wanted something a little more stew-like this time around because I wanted to scoop these with some good bread.

I had a bag of Rancho Gordo’s Yellow Eye Beans and thought they’d be perfect for this kind of dish. They’re a small white bean and you could use any similar type of white bean. I started the beans the night before with a good soak in salted water. The next morning, after draining the beans, I put them on to cook with more salt, red pepper flakes, dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) ,* olive oil, and water. I didn’t let the beans fully cook because I knew I wanted to finish them in my sauce. 

A word is in order regarding the dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) .* If you’ve never tasted them, you are in for a treat. The only way I can think to describe them is that they are a more robust oregano, but sweeter. That description doesn’t really do them justice. They’re widely used in Indian cooking and I use them in all kinds of dishes. Since tasting them for the first time, they’re now a staple dried herb in my kitchen. 

I don’t know if any of you have tried a product from Brooklyn Delhi called Tomato Achaar ,* but I’ve been ordering it for awhile now. As per Brooklyn Delhi, “Tomato Achaar is a staple Indian condiment made with tomatoes, tamarind, a mix of Indian spices, red chili powder, unrefined cane sugar and sesame oil. It has a savory, spicy and tangy flavor that is addictive and delicious however you consume it.” They spell it out perfectly. 

I’ve eaten it many kinds of ways and thought it would be delicious in my sauce. Whenever I order it, I get it in a 2-pack that includes the tomato variety and the other is Roasted Garlic Achaar .* I think they’re both equally delicious and highly recommend them. 

I started my sauce by first sautéing diced pancetta until it was crisp. After removing it from the pan, I cooked a sliced onion and some garlic, added a large can of whole tomatoes (that I crushed with my fingers as I added them to the pot), and let this cook for about 15 – 20 minutes, until it had thickened. Then I stirred in 5 tablespoons of the Tomato Achaar ,* all the beans, plus a couple cups of their cooking liquid and let it cook for another 15 – 20 minutes.

Then I tasted it and knew something was missing. While it was tasty, it lacked depth. And then it struck me that a little fish sauce was what it needed. Sure enough, 2 teaspoons of fish sauce gave it a much richer flavor. A little salt and plenty of black pepper were all it now needed.  

I spooned it into bowls, drizzled on a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled the crisp pancetta on top. I had a loaf of Ekmek, Turkish flatbread, stashed in my freezer and pulled it out and heated it up to serve with these delicious beans. If you’re in the mood, I recommend King Arthur’s very easy recipe for these flatbreads. They always turn out well and I make them often. 

This was one tasty bowl of beans. Nothing at all boring here. We didn’t eat anything else with this meal. Bread and beans. Can’t hardly get more simple than that, but dang, this was great.

Another way to go here would be to add some harissa to the sauce, instead of the Tomato Achaar .* I would then sprinkle the top with za’atar when I served it. I think that would be great. If you stick with my basic recipe, there are all kinds of seasonings you could use. For instance, you could also go Italian, add oregano and/or fresh basil, perhaps some ground fennel seeds, and top it with grated parmesan. But I wouldn’t neglect the pancetta in either of these variations. It’s just too good to leave omit.

By the way, if you don’t have the time or inclination to cook the beans from scratch, you could use 3 15-ounce cans of cooked beans, but don’t drain and rinse them. Use them straight from the can and add 2 cups of water. Let them cook for 10 – 15 minutes in the sauce and proceed as directed.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, may pay me a small commission and help support the costs of this website. Read full privacy policy here.

Play Video

Pancetta and Tomato Achaar Beans

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Beans are cooked in a sauce of onions, garlic, tomatoes, Tomato Achaar, and a little fish sauce. They are then spooned into bowls and topped with olive oil and crispy fried pancetta. This is as delicious as it sounds. Trust me.

Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on


  • 1 pound small white beans (I used Yellow Eye Beans from Rancho Gordo) or substitute 3 - 15 ounce cans small white beans, undrained

  • Morton kosher salt

  • Large pinch red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) *

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 ounces diced pancetta

  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated

  • 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands

  • 5 tablespoons Brooklyn Delhi Tomato Achaar *

  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce


  • Rinse the beans and let them soak overnight in 8 cups water to which you stirred in 1 1/2 tablespoons Morton kosher salt. The next morning, drain the beans and add them to a large pot. Add water to come 1 1/2 inches above the beans. Stir in 1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt, red pepper flakes, kasoori methi, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a full boil over medium high heat and let boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat until the beans are only simmering, cover the pot with a lid, and let simmer until the beans are almost fully cooked. - about 1 hour. You want them to still need a little more time in order to be fully tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • In a large sauce pan, Dutch oven, or brasier, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and let drain on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  • Add the sliced onions to the pan, along with a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat until fully softened. Stir in the grated garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with all their juices. Cook for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes are very thick. Stir in the tomato achaar.
  • Add all the beans and 2 cups of their broth. Cook over medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the beans have fully softened and the sauce is thickened to your liking.
  • If using canned beans, add them to the sauce, along with 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek leaves, a large pinch of hot pepper flakes, and proceed as directed.
  • Stir in the fish sauce and taste for salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls, drizzle with more olive oil, and sprinkle with the crispy pancetta. Serve with crusty bread or flatbreads for scooping. Enjoy!

2 Responses

    1. Oh, this is fantastic, Jane!! I hope you enjoy the recipe and the ingredients, too. Thank you!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 512 MB. You can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Facebook Comments

Facebook Activitry