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Today we have a very quick and easy Afrikaans side dish, Sousboontjies, which literally means beans in sauce.

They are actually sweet and sour beans in sauce. Modern South African “sousboontjies” are made from a red speckled bean known as a sugar beans (lima beans). Hettie Claassens describes the interesting history of this traditional South African dish in her book “Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos”. Sousbone (sweet and sour beans in sauce) was a dish first made by the Romans, who used vinegar, spices and honey. The 13th century Arabs made a similar dish with sweetened mustard, vinegar and raisins. In the 17th century, the Dutch used prune juice and syrup or honey to make their version of sweet and sour beans, which they brought to the Cape of Good Hope when they settled there in 1652. By the 1740’s it had evolved into a salad made with black-eyed beans (swartbekboontjies), butter and vinegar. Today we are doing the version that is most commonly found on South African tables served cold with a braai (BBQ) ideally.

IMG_7034Makes about 750 ml / 3 cups


500 g / 1 lb dried red speckled beans/ butter beans/ lima beans
Water (to soak and cook the beans)
4 tablespoons sugar
100 ml / 3 1/2 oz red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Soak the beans in cold water overnight
Drain the beans and place in a saucepan
Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil
Cook for about 2 hours on a low simmer until most of the water is absorbed and the beans are tender
Remove about 1/4 of the beans to another dish and lightly mash them
Add the rest to the mashed ones
Add the sugar, vinegar, butter, rosemary, salt and pepper to a small saucepan and melt
Add to the beans and mix lightly
Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours
Serve well chilled