Fava beans: Friend or foe? I like listing the health benefits of the main ingredient in my recipes. In this case, I should also list the potential hazards caused by fava beans or broad beans. For those who have a hereditary condition called G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency) fava beans can induce a fatal condition called “favism”, a type of anemia, as you may have already guessed, the condition is named after “fava”.
But for the rest of us, broad beans are a good source of protein and other healthy stuff, beneficial for those with Parkinson’s disease or hypertension. Some even say fava beans can be used as a natural alternative to the V drug, based on a proposed link between one’s libido and a substance found in fava beans. I don’t know if that’s true, you’ll have to see it for yourself.
Fava beans are also used in fortune telling by gypsies on the streets of Turkey. So, quite a miracle legume, both revealing your future and aiding you in your love life. Joking aside, I’ll just give out a decent, innocent meze recipe, made with fava beans.
I am not a drinker myself, firstly for religious reasons. But sometimes, I feel grateful to Turkish drinkers of raki, tough. Why? Because if not for those people, great meze recipes would have long gone lost. Except for a few of those mezes, Turkish homecooks and no-alcohol restaurants do not pay much attention to this category of Turkish cuisine. A good, forget about “good”, a decent topik (chickpea pâté filled with caramelized onions, currants and pine nuts and dusted with cinnamon) or tarama (another meze made with fish roe) are very hard to find nowadays, in regular restaurants. You either have to find the recipe and the ingredients and make it yourself or go to a meyhane (Turkish pub) to find those dishes. A good fava is not very easy to find either.
Oh, one other warning! Do NOT make it in very large quantities as one can only eat very little, say a few little slices, of this meze. It’s quite rich and flavorful. I made a huge batch and now feel sick at the very sight or thought of it. Thus, I’ve adjusted the amounts, so that you won’t be making that much of fava meze.
Ingredients (serves 5-8):
1 1/2 cups of dried shelled fava beans (you can soak them into water overnight to reduce cooking time)
3 1/2 cups of boiling water
1 medium size onion, chopped into 4-6 pieces
A dash of sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of salt (adjust according to your liking)
1/2 cup of fresh dill leaves
Bring the water to boil, add in fava beans, onion and sugar. Cover and simmer on low heat. It takes around 40-45 minutes to cook, check at every 10-15 minutes. You may reduce the time by soaking your beans in water the night before you plan to make the dish.
When the beans and onions are soft enough to be blended into a purée, add 1/2 cup of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and use a hand blender or food processor or simply a potato masher to make it into a soft spread.
Take a 4-5 cm deep rectangular or square serving plate or tray (when you fill it with the mixture it should rise at least to 3-4 cm), rinse it under water, do not dry, just shake to rid excess water. Place the spread into the plate, smooth out the surface. Let sit on the kitchen counter until cool and then cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving. Slice into squares or diagonal slices (or any other shape you like), drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with fresh dill leaves. Ready to serve, a healthy, easy breezy meze dish from the Mediterranean. One more quick note: It stinks when boiling!