One of my very favorite pilafs! Its ideal in the Spring too, because the fava beans are in season, and the wild dill can be found everywhere in the mountains and fields nearby. I am truly sorry if these mountains are not a practical option, and if you do not grow fav beans in your kitchen garden, you would then need to seek out a farmers market or get the beans frozen and the dill in a jar.
Its a dish that is originally from Iran, although it is also popular in Iraq and served there without the saffron and with lamb shanks.
Its a very simple dish, although time-consuming. Shelling the fav beans is a test of one’s patience and if there is a youngster nearby willing to do it in exchange for a treat or some cash, I’d jump at the opportunity! Basically, I cook the rice iranian-style (parboiled first, then layered with the ingredients and steamed for 45 minutes). Once the dill is foraged, I clean it, dry it, remove the hard stalks and chop it extra fine. The rice is rinsed first and left to soak in salty water for a couple of hours. The beans are shelled, then each bean is peeled (the skin is very thick and hard on a delicate stomach).
The Iranian version (as opposed to the Iraqi version) adds saffron to the pilaf. I love it, as it adds a flowery scent that is very pleasant. You can also make it without. Sahtein!
Fava bean and Dill pilaf
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Passive Time: 45 minutes
2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in salty water for one hour or longer
3 cups fresh chopped dill, chopped very fine
3 cups fava beans, peeled
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp saffron, soaked in 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp white pepper (optional)
3/4 cup melted butter or oil
3/4 cup water
3 cups plain yogurt
- Drain the rice, and place it in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and boil for 4 minutes till grains are cooked but still firm. Drain pot.
- Pour half the butter in a large nonstick pot, add half the rice and saffron water. Add the dill sprinkled evenly throughout, and the fava beans, and season the pilaf. Add the rice on top. Make 3 or 4 holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon and pour the remaining butter and water all over. Cover the lid with a towel and seal the pot. Place over medium heat for 10 minutes then lower the heat to very low and leave for the remainder of the 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, open the pot, check the rice, and toss it a bit to combine the ingredients. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with plain yogurt.
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