Fry bora is one of my favorite Guyanese vegetable dishes. It is also known as Chinese long beans, yard beans, or snake beans. It's delicious with seafood, meat, or all by itself, but I enjoy it best with chicken. My mother probably laughs every time I tell her I'm making fry bora for dinner. I couldn't stand it in my younger days! I just didn't like the taste of it and now as an adult it's become a staple in my weekly diet. My kids love it, too. My older son loves to eat it raw. He is fascinated by how long the the beans are and enjoys the crunch with each bite!
This is delicious curried or stir-fried. It's a simple dish to make and one that is healthy and very satiating. If we're having this with roti, I cook the bora softer, but when pairing with rice it's nice to have it a little firmer.
Varieties and shopping
I've seen three shades of bora. Light green, which some call cabbage bora, dark green, and a purplish color. The lighter colored beans are softer and cook quickly. When I lived in southwest Florida, my Guyanese friend Amrita would bring me bags of this variety from her grandfather's backyard. That was the first time I ever cooked the lighter colored ones. This variety tastes more like an American string bean to me. The skin is not as tough and cooks tender compared to its dark green counterpart.
Young, thin bora beans that are shorter in length (12"-16" long) cook the best. I recall vegetable shopping with my father, he would tell me not to choose ones that were husky and extra bumpy- it was an indication the beans were older and would take forever to cook. However, where I live in Florida, bora can be hard to find, so when I do get my hands on some, I take what I can get! Whatever your options are, just try to choose ones that do not have any dark spots and do not look dry. This indicates the beans are going bad.
When to add the potatoes
There are two ways to add potatoes to this dish. The first way is to add it about 10 minutes before the bora is completely cooked, which is how I was taught. The challenge with this method is if you're not used to cooking bora and can't easily identify what stage it's at in the cooking process, you can risk adding the potatoes too late and end up with soft bora, but hard potatoes. Add it too soon and you'll get mushy potatoes with hard bora. My aunty Debbie showed me how she cooks her bora- she cooks the potato first then removes it from the pot. After the bora and chicken are done, the potato is added back in and tossed together.
- 2 small bundles bora beans, chopped 2in pieces
- ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 wiri wiri peppers
- 1 large potato, peeled and chopped + pinch of salt and black pepper
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 large bouillon cube or 2 maggi chicken cubes or salt
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
Seasoning for chicken
- 1lb chicken thighs or breasts, chopped 1-in pieces
- 1 heaping tbsp green seasoning
- 2 tsp casareep or ½ tsp browning sauce
- ½ tsp seasoning salt
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp oil
- Wash and pat chicken dry.
- Place chicken in a mixing bowl. Add all seasonings, Mix it up and marinate for 30 minutes minimum.
- Chop heads and tails off of bora beans. Chop into 1-2in sized pieces. Rinse chopped beans, set aside.
- Heat a wide bottomed pot on medium heat, add 2-3 tbsp oil. Add sliced potatoes along with salt and black pepper. Cook for a few minutes until cooked through. Remove from oil.
- Add a little more oil to pot if needed, add onion, garlic, and pepper, saute a few minutes until onions are browned. Add chicken. Cook 6-7 minutes until juices are almost dried down.
- Add in bora and toss with chicken. Add tomato paste, black pepper, paprika, cube, and chopped tomatoes. Cover pot with lid and cook about ten minutes on medium-high heat.
- Add ¼ cup water to help steam bora and keep from sticking to pot. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until bora is to desired texture.
- Add potatoes back to pot and toss with bora and chicken. Let it cook 1 more minute.
- Adjust salt to taste.
Husky and darker bora beans will take longer to cook. Light green bora and thinner darker ones will cook quickly. I recommend Grace or Spur tree brand browning sauce, but any Caribbean brand will work.