Inspired by our mom’s recipe, this Pea and Carrot Vegetarian Stew is made with sweet peas and carrots in a savory tomato sauce. Budget-friendly, quick to make, and so delicious, it’s the perfect comfort food when served with vermicelli rice!
Bisilla – Our Favorite Vegetarian Stew
Existing in many forms in different cultures, this vegetarian stew is is seeen being referred to as bisilla, bisala wa gazar, and bazella. However, our version is a simple pea and carrot stew that is a staple comfort food in any Egyptian kitchen! Our mom used to make it all the time, and growing up it was always one of our favorite dinners. Hearty and delicious, it’s full of veggies for a nutrient-dense meal that’s full of flavor and budget-friendly, too.
Today, we continue to serve the dish for our own families, and it’s still one of our faves! Given the modest ingredients, you might think this recipe is not much to look at. But one taste, and you’ll be blown away!
Ingredients You’ll Need
A healthy recipe, the ingredients used in this stew are simple but create a rich flavor once combined. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Butter and Olive Oil – Used to sauté the veggies and create a rich taste.
- Veggies – Onions, frozen peas, and peeled carrots add extra texture, fiber, and nutrients, making this vegetarian stew extra filling.
- Seasonings – Garlic, salt, and pepper are all you’ll need!
- Water or Broth – Used to thin out the tomato base. Chicken or vegetable broth will create a slightly richer sauce, but water is still tasty!
- Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste – Once combined, these create an aromatic broth similar to traditional tomato soup.
- Sugar – Regular granulated sugar helps to cut through some of the acidity of the tomato sauce for a more savory flavor.
How to Make Vegetarian Stew
One of the reasons why this vegetarian stew is so popular is because it’s super easy to make and comes together in just one pot. That means you can be in and out of the kitchen in minutes, and cleanup is a breeze. It’s a win-win!
- Sauté: In a large, deep pot, heat the butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, add in the chopped onions, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Boil: Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water to the pot, stirring to combine. Then, bring the ingredients to a boil.
- Simmer: Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Cook the Veggies: Add the peas, carrots, and sugar to the pot. Cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, being careful not to overcook.
- Serve: Portion the stew into bowls, serve warm, and enjoy!
*Some people like to include beef such as beef chuck or similar lean cuts, but we prefer to keep this recipe vegetarian.
This vegetarian stew is great for
Once cooled, leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or, keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months!
When you’re ready to eat, let your stew thaw in the fridge overnight, and reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat.
How to Serve
Satisfying on its own, Bisilla is commonly served with vermicelli rice! It also tastes great with a little extra spice. Feel free to add a dash of hot sauce, chili flakes, or chili peppers to satisfy your tastebuds.
We’ve also served this vegetarian paired with sides like pita bread, plain white rice, or coconut turmeric rice!
More Egyptian Recipes
If you enjoyed this vegetarian stew, try out more of our favorite Egyptian dishes below!
- Roz Maamar is a type of rich, savory Egyptian baked rice that’s crisp on the outside yet soft and tender on the inside.
- A popular street food and Egyptian national dish, Koshari is made with layers of chickpeas, fried onions, tomato sauce, and rice and lentils for an incredibly tasty plant-based recipe.
- A savory pasta dish, this Egyptian Orzo Pasta is an easy take on classic Lesan Al Asfour.
- An easy take on a favorite Egyptian recipe, this Macarona Bechamel has all the flavor of traditional baked macaroni bechamel in the convenience of one pot.
Pea and Carrot Vegetarian Stew (Bisilla)
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small onions (chopped)
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- 3/4 teapoon black pepper
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 ½ cups water or broth
- 6 cups frozen peas
- 2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- In a deep pot on medium-high heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the chopped onions, garlic salt, and pepper. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water.
- Bring the ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the peas, carrots, and sugar. Cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the peas and carrots are tender but not overcooked.
- Serve immediately, and enjoy!