Тавче Гравче
gravce tavce 1 682x1024 Savory Sundays: Macedonian Style Baked Beans {Tavce Gravce}
Like any true Macedonian kitchen, a weekly menu without Tavce Gravce (TAHV-cheh GRAHV-cheh), or Macedonian Style Baked Beans, does not exist. It’s a Friday staple. Most Macedonians are Christian Orthodox, thus in a traditional Macedonian home Friday night dinner is meatless.

Today’s post is part of World on a plate, a monthly blogging cultural exchange where a group of bloggers from different corners of the world get together once a month to “interpret a food through the lens of their home country cooking” on the last Sunday of the month. Each blogger will produce a dish featuring the food chosen that is typical of his or her home country and talk a bit about the dish. This month’s theme is auspicious food.

And no other food screams success and prosperity more than beans! ;-D

No, really! Beans, in some cultures, represent fortune and growth because of their shape; they look like coins and thus represent prosperity.

In the South, black-eyed peas symbolize good luck and are traditionally prepared on New Year’s Day. In other countries, beans, pomegranates, pork, among other things, act as good fortune and are eaten on New Year’s Day in hopes of a great year ahead.

gravce tavce 11 1024x682 Savory Sundays: Macedonian Style Baked Beans {Tavce Gravce}
Because New Year’s Day is during Christmas Lent for those of us that follow the Julian Calendar, a traditional Macedonian household will have Tavce Gravce on the table this New Year’s Day because it is one, customary, and two, because it is meatless.

This is Macedonia’s National Dish. It is a traditional meal that dates back centuries, and its preparation method has changed ever so slightly to accommodate today’s cook. Home cooks would prepare this dish a day in advance by placing the beans in a dutch oven over wood fire to slowly cook through the night and be ready just in time for lunch the next day.

Nowadays, instead of a wood fire, we use our oven. And, instead of waiting an entire night for the meal to cook, Tavce Gravce is now done in about 2 hours. If you use canned beans, it can be done in 30 minutes! But, don’t do that. You will kill the tradition, and my ancestors will haunt me in my dreams tonight. I did that once and my Mother just about murdered me… it’s that serious. icon biggrin Savory Sundays: Macedonian Style Baked Beans {Tavce Gravce}

You can enjoy Tavce Gravce as a side dish to any meal, or as a meal on its own with a side-salad sprinkled with white sheep cheese or feta cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread.

tavce 11 682x1024 Savory Sundays: Macedonian Style Baked Beans {Tavce Gravce}

Please click below to see all the wonderful dishes from the rest of the World on a plate participants!

Savory Sundays: Macedonian Style Baked Beans {Tavce Gravce}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 8
  • 4 cups Great Northern Beans, washed and cleaned according to the directions on the package
  • Water
  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 dried whole chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 large onion, sliced into ⅛-inch thick rounds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley
For the Roux {Запршка}
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  1. Place the beans in a 5-qt. or 6-qt. pot and cover with water about 2 inches above the beans.
  2. Pour in the oil.
  3. Add in the quartered onions and dried chili peppers
  4. Cook the beans over medium-high heat until soft, about 1½ to 2 hours.
  5. Stir often and add warm water as it evaporates. You are looking for a stew-like consistency.
Once the beans are cooked, prepare the roux. Do not remove beans from heat.
  1. Slightly heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the paprika and keep stirring until just thoroughly combined and fragrant.
  3. Pour the roux into the pot with the beans and stir.
  4. Mix in a tablespoon of salt and continue to boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Preheat oven to 400.
  7. Carefully pour the beans into a large casserole dish, a dutch oven, or a large clay pot. You don't want to pour in all the water; add enough water to barely cover the beans.
  8. Place the sliced rounds of onions and the cooked chili peppers on top as garnish.
  9. Taste for salt and pepper.
  10. Bake the beans for 30 minutes, or until a crusty layer forms on top of the beans.
  11. Remove and let cool 15 minutes before serving.
  12. Add chopped parsley for garnish.
You can enjoy Tavce Gravce as a side dish to any meal, or as a meal on its own with a side-salad sprinkled with white sheep cheese or feta cheese, and a loaf of crusty bread.

About the Author

30 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Radmila Dyakov March 19, 2013 at 9:14 PM - Reply

    Thank you for this recipe! It reminded me skiing vacations in Bansko! Have you tried preparing the beans in a slowcooker?

  2. Rashida Shaikh January 14, 2013 at 12:29 PM - Reply

    The title has grabbed my attention; I was getting curious to know the recipe.
    It looks good.
    Have a wonderful year ahead!

    • Kate@Diethood January 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM - Reply

      Thank you, Rashida! Happy new year to you, too!!

  3. PolaM December 31, 2012 at 8:18 PM - Reply

    What a delicious way to cook beans! I have to try it!

  4. Danielle December 31, 2012 at 7:15 PM - Reply

    Just found your website and have been poring over your Macedonian recipes. Can’t wait to start using them. I lived in Skopje 2004-2006. Thank you!

  5. Valerie December 31, 2012 at 10:16 AM - Reply

    Gorgeous photos, lovely recipe. I happen to enjoy beans quite a lot! :D

  6. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen December 31, 2012 at 5:52 AM - Reply

    That is one tradition that I hadn´t heard before, but probably because our New Year is in the middle of summer. A good plate of beans is always good and these look fantastic! Happy New Year Katerina!

  7. Ellen December 31, 2012 at 3:17 AM - Reply

    Love it. I almost didn’t look at the post because I don’t like American-style baked beans (too sweet) but these look right upy alley:)

  8. Taking On Magazines December 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM - Reply

    Your beans look delicious. I’m honestly a little surprised to see beans in Macedonian cooking. I guess it’s because I don’t know of many Armenian dishes using them. Lentils, yes, but not beans. :)

    • Pavle April 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM - Reply

      Considering that Armenia is 1,218 miles from Macedonia and there are as many similarities agriculturally between Armenia and Macedonia as there are between Sweden and Italy, I wonder why it surprises you that Macedonians use beans?

  9. jodye @ chocolate and chou fleur December 30, 2012 at 8:11 PM - Reply

    I love great northern beans, and this looks like a wonderful way to prepare them. It seems so simple, and certainly delicious. Wonderful photos, too!

  10. Laura (Tutti Dolci) December 30, 2012 at 6:31 PM - Reply

    I love beans, these would be the ultimate comfort food for me!

  11. Shea Goldstein December 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM - Reply

    I love Great Northern Beans – this looks perfect for a cold day! Happy New Year to you and your family!!

  12. Ramona December 30, 2012 at 7:01 AM - Reply

    What a fabulous way to eat your way through New Years!! I love beans. Wishing you a Happy and Wonderful New year 2013!!

    • Kate@Diethood December 30, 2012 at 8:12 AM - Reply

      Happy New Year to you and to yours, Ramona!! Thank you for all your support! xoxo

  13. Nancy R December 30, 2012 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    Oh my! Can you believe I just had Tavce Gravce at my mother’s house this afternoon. It happened to be one of the dishes on the table.
    It certainly is a staple food which I love eating with fresh crusty bread.
    Great pics Kate. You make me want to eat it again.

    • Kate@Diethood December 30, 2012 at 8:12 AM - Reply

      Nancy, I know what you mean…crusty bread and tavce gravce is the best! No fork needed…I will just sop it up with my loaf of homemade bread! :-)

    • Nancy R December 30, 2012 at 3:18 PM - Reply

      Sop it up indeed! You really know what I mean.
      It’s the only way :)

  14. Kristy December 30, 2012 at 5:05 AM - Reply

    Fabulous dish Kate! This is one will be using for when we get around to cooking from Macedonia for sure. I love the presentation in the iron skillet. :) Happy New Year!

    • Kate@Diethood December 30, 2012 at 8:10 AM - Reply

      Thank you, Kristy!! I hope you do get a chance to make this…it really is a delicious, comforting dish.
      Happy New Year to you and to yours!! xo

Leave A Response

Rate this recipe: