Friday, May 11, 2012

Fry Bora with Shrimp and Potatoes

In my home, there were weekday meals and weekend meals.  My mother used to cook lots of vegetables during the work week and reserve the dishes that took longer to cook, like curries and stews, for the weekends.  It was a time management thing I guess.  Two working parents and a busy home to run, it was difficult, but my mom always found a way to make sure we had a healthy traditional meal on the table.  I remember as a child how much I despised bora, it just had a taste that didn't sit right with me, but I still ate it so as to not waste the money my mother spent on these freakishly long string beans. 

 I also have vivid memories of my uncle Chris, who would sometimes stop by randomly; he would eat a couple of the beans raw, right out of the refrigerator!  I thought it was pure craziness, these beans were so bitter and I couldn't find a good taste in them, but that was then and this is now.  As I got older I noticed I actually started to like bora! It became one of my favorite dishes prepared by my mother.  I even realized when I went to Guyana that it was quite common to enjoy them raw, and I certainly did!  I loved the crunch of the uncooked bean and equally loved the nutty taste when cooked.  I started cooking bora when I moved out on my own and it has now become a weekday meal for me again.  So here's to giving a second chance to the foods you once hated as a child, but now love as an adult! Another one of mom's recipes, documented and shared :) Enjoy!

These long beans have various names, I have heard them called, yard long bean, bodi, bora, and Chinese long bean.  The most interesting one to me is "yard long bean" because even though they are called yard long bean, they are only about 18inches long and can grow up to 30 inches in length!  They are used in many different ways; in Guyanese cooking, we chop it in small pieces and use it in fried rice, it can also be curried or included in Guyanese-Chinese stir fry dishes.

My two favorite ways to have bora is sauteed (which is called "fry" in Guyanese terms) and  raw in fried rice.  Today I have sauteed this bora with white belly shrimp and potatoes.  Many people add different proteins to this dish.  You can certainly serve it with saltfish, shrimp, chicken, and even minced beef.  It can be served alongside rice or roti, and even bakes.  This is the way my mom makes her bora, your mom might have a different recipe, which I am sure is just as delicious! 

Chop the heads off of the bora beans and cut the rest of the bean into 1 inch pieces.  I also like my bora a little longer, some people cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.  Do what you prefer.  My mom used to cut this by hand, a few bora beans at a time.  I find it easier to chop a bunch on the cutting board, just seems faster to me.  

Rinse beans after chopping and set aside. 

Prep all your ingredients.  1 large tomato, 1 small yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 small potatoes, 2 handfuls of white belly shrimp and desired amount of hot pepper. 

Add 3 tbsp oil to a pot and saute onions, garlic, and pepper until onions are tender.  Add tomatoes and once tomatoes are soft, add bora beans. 

If you prefer to use salt, you may do so, my mom always used chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes.  I have seen these in two sizes, rectangular, and little cubes.  I used one rectangular shaped cube.  I assume this would equal about 3 smaller cubes.  

After about 5-6 minutes of placing bora beans in the pot, add bouillon cube, black pepper, and 1/3 cup water (not pictured).  Let this cook for 20-25 minutes.

After 20-25 minutes, if you feel the beans are still a little hard, let it cook for an additional 5-6 minutes before adding the potatoes.  The tenderness of the bora is all about preference. 

Let potatoes cook for 15-20minutes. 

While potatoes are cooking, cook your protein separately.  If you are adding beef or chicken, you may want to start cooking this 1/2 hour before cooking the bora.

Fry Bora with Shrimp and Potatoes
Serves 4

  • 1lb bora beans
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 wiri wiri pepper or scotch bonnet
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 small potatoes or 1 Idaho
  • 1 large chicken/vegetable bouillon cube or 3 small cubes
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 3 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water (not pictured)
  • Desired protein - shrimp, chicken, beef, saltfish


  1. Chop heads off of beans and cut into one inch pieces.  Rinse chopped beans and set aside. 
  2. Gather all ingredients.  Chop onion, garlic, tomato, potatoes, and pepper (if you don't want this too spicy don't chop the pepper).  I like this dish spicy so I added two wiri wiri peppers, chopped.
  3. Prep and season whichever protein you will be using, set aside.  I used two handfuls of white belly shrimp and seasoned it like this.
  4. Heat a caharee or pot with 3 tbsp oil.  Add garlic, onions, and pepper.  Allow to saute until onions become tender.  Add tomatoes. 
  5. Once tomatoes are soft and looks like a sauce, add chopped bora.  Let cook for 5-6 minutes then add bouillon cube, black pepper and water.  Stir and let cook for 20-25 minutes. 
  6. After 20 minutes, add the potatoes, let cook for 15-20 minutes. 
  7. While potatoes cook, cook your protein separately and set aside. If using beef, chicken or saltfish, you may want to cook this earlier on before cooking the bora.
  8. Once potatoes are cooked, add your cooked protein and mix to incorporate the flavors. 
  9. Enjoy with rice, roti, or even bakes! 


  1. Young lady, you out to know that this is a favourite combo of mine! Love bora with shrimp and potatoes!

  2. this was my absolute favourite dish as a child. i too used to eat bora raw and still love it. thanks so much for the recipe!

  3. I add coconut milk to my Bora, it's a much richer taste.

  4. Which type of heat should be used to cook this with? Also, should this be cooked covered or uncovered? Thanks. :)

  5. Alica,

    This dish came out amazing. Thank You!

  6. This dish was delicious. Thank You!

  7. Can canned green beans be used as a substitution?

  8. Can canned green beans be used as a substitution?