My Serbian bean stew sets pulses racing. The recipe? Oh, if you insist … | Adrian Chiles

What’s the biggest compliment a child can pay a parent? How can a woman make her father’s chest swell with pride? For me, there is an easy answer. Just ask me for a recipe; just ask me how to make something I used to cook for you.

Nothing, but nothing, compares to this. I could be told I was brilliant, kind, funny, wise – pick your adjective. I could be praised for my careful calibration of a fine moral compass. Nah. None of these would butter my parsnips. Send me a text asking how I made that chocolate mousse out of silken tofu. That’s what one of my daughters did yesterday afternoon. And the rest of the day was a breeze.

The only thing is, that recipe wasn’t my own. It came from 500 Vegan Dishes by Deborah Gray. So, for me, that’s only a silver medal. If I’m going for gold, then it has to be a dish I’ve had a hand in coming up with myself.

My moment came when the same daughter was away at university. Could I send her my recipe for “that bean thing” I make? Oh yes. I was replying almost before she had pressed send on the original text. This dish was my feeble attempt at a Serbian dish called pasulj, a delicious kind of soupy bean stew. Apart from anything else, the real thing features a lot of smoked meat and my version was meatless, a heresy that I’m sure in Belgrade would have me strapped to a ducking stool and lowered into the Danube. But that would be a price worth paying, because I don’t mind telling you it nigh on went viral among her college friendship group. She got texts from semi-strangers asking how to make “your dad’s bean thing”. My joy knew no bounds.

Oh, OK, if you insist. You soften three large sliced onions and the cloves from a whole head of garlic in oil. Add a chopped chilli, if you like. Then throw in drained butter beans from three tins. And some more oil. And a tin of chopped tomatoes and some vegan (or not) chorizo. Cook on the stove or in the oven for about 40 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Embarrassingly simple? Yes. Do I care? No. A triumph is a triumph.

Adrian Chiles is a columnist, writer and Guardian columnist

The Guardian