Fava bean and yogurt stew over Basmati rice

March 5, 2010  •  Category:

In the Near East, everybody is crazy about fava beans; it’s my mother’s favorite dish. In our family, fava beans were made in a yogurt-based stew with lamb shanks.  I grabbed a bag of frozen fava beans from the Palestinian grocer; these  are imported from Egypt ( fava beans are a staple food in Egypt).

In Lebanese cuisine, you have three  major types of sauces: yogurt-based sauces,  tomato-based sauces and tahini-based sauces. This stew is yogurt-based and meatless today.

The yogurt is cooked and stabilized with the help of cornstarch and sometimes eggs. Then, a pesto is added to give the yogurt flavor, usually cilantro pesto. Lastly, you  add whatever vegetable or meat that strikes your fancy. Serve  with  rice.


  • 1 1/2 cups of Basmati rice, soaked in fresh water 2 hours
  • 3 tablespoons of butter or oil
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric and a squirt of ketchup OR a pinch of saffron
  • 1 bag of frozen fava beans
  • 1 32-oz container of yogurt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 egg (optional) or 1 egg white, beaten lightly
  • Cilantro pesto: 1 heaping tablespoon of chopped cilantro and 1 heaping tablespoon of mashed garlic
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • olive oil as needed
  • salt, pepper as needed


A. Make the cilantro pesto:

  1. Chop the cilantro leaves as fine as possible. Mash the garlic cloves, cut up, with a little salt.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a skillet, add the chopped onion and fry till golden, add the mashed garlic and the chopped cilantro. Stir gently for one or two minutes and remove from the heat.

B. Cook the fava beans:

  1. Follow package directions; usually it calls for boiling salted water and dumping the fava beans in the boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain almost completely, reserving one scant cup of cooking water  and mix the fava beans with the cilantro pesto.

C. Cook the yogurt:

  1. Dump the yogurt in a heavy-bottomed pot. Mix the cornstarch with the cooking fava bean water till smooth. Heat the yogurt over medium-low heat, start stirring in the same direction,  and add the cornstarch mixture (and beaten egg if using); when the yogurt starts steaming, keep stirring  for one  minute and remove from the heat.
  2. Add the fava beans and pesto mixture. Serve with rice or bread if desired.

D. Cook the rice:

  1. Drain the rice of its soaking water and place it in a pot; cover with fresh water, at least 2 inches above the surface of the rice.
  2. Bring to a boil and boil the rice 7 minutes; taste and if it is cooked but still firm it is ready.
  3. Drain the rice and rinse with fresh tap water.
  4. In the same pot, melt a few tablespoons of butter (or oil) add some turmeric and ketchup (or saffron), 1/2 cup of water and place the rice. Cover the pot, keep the heat on medium for 10 minutes then lower the heat and steam for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover the pot, taste the rice, add some salt and more butter if needed, fluff it and serve.


27 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. sophia says:

    Oh my! What a refreshing, unique, exotic dish…I’m so intrigued by that yogurt stew…I have to try this out!

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipe says:

    mmmm...that creamy yoghurt-based bean stew would be perfect for my lunch with some flat bread!

  3. Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes says:

    I’ve never had anything like this… yogurt stew sounds fantastic with rice over it. 🙂

  4. Sushma Mallya says:

    Interesting one & so easy too…so nicely done and presented it beautifully…

  5. SathyaSrihdar says:

    Looks yummy , the fava beans in yoghurt with rice looks awesome!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Ivy says:

    The dish sounds delicious. Have never seen fava beans cooked like this before.

  7. Juanita says:

    Ooh, this is a fantastic looking recipe! I adore basmati rice + bean dishes!
    I remember watching an ep of a Heston Blumethal program where he “tested” marinades where they used, specifically, yoghurt. It was “proven” (through some or other university lab experiment) that marinades using yoghurt as a base actually DO penetrate the food much better than those that don’t.
    As such, I bet this recipe would be one of those dishes that would be even better eaten the next day after it’s spent the night in the fridge, as those flavours would really penetrate the fava beans.

  8. mylittleexpatkitchen says:

    This looks so good. I love this combination of ingredients and basmati rice is my favorite!

  9. Rosa says:

    Oh, yummy! That rice dish looks delish!



  10. Mamatkamal says:

    Never tasted or tried something delicious like this, the yogurt sounds gread!

  11. Mamatkamal says:

    sorry I mean “great” and not “gread”
    have a great weekend

  12. pierre says:

    ton plat est tellement exotique et tres coloré !! bravo Pierre

  13. Barbara says:

    This looks wonderful! I love fava beans, And I don’t make them nearly often enough. Love your combo of ingredients!

  14. rebecca says:

    oh wow looks delicious I need to get me some of these beans yummy

  15. Julie says:

    Ça a l’air vraiment délicieux. Je n’ai pas l’habitude de manger des fèves, mais avec le pesto de coriandre, ça doit vraiment être extra!

  16. Nansi says:

    Hi there! I just cooked this, but I found that without broth the yogurt mix is very thick, is it supposed to be that way? I added some broth to thin it out just a little bit….

  17. Faith says:

    This is a lovely stew! I’ve had meat and yogurt stew, but never with fava beans — it looks delicious addition!

  18. Joie de vivre says:

    Fava beans are my FAVORITE veggie. This looks great.

  19. Arlette says:

    Wow… I didnt have this since I left Lebanon…
    I cannot find fresh or frozen Fava Beans here… I plant some seeds for the summer,
    to eat them raw… Shayatini

  20. TastyTrix says:

    You don’t even know how much I love fava beans, I would eat this by the bucketful if (when) I made it! It seriously has every good thing in it. How are those frozen favas? I used to find good ones at an Italian market in New York, but here I only can find mealy tasteless ones at Whole Foods. For some stupid reason, I have not thought to check a Middle Eastern market, but will do so now.

  21. Alépine says:

    J’étais un peu occupée ces derniers temps…je reviens sur ton blog et découvre toujours d’aussi bonnes et belles recettes.
    J’aime beaucoup les sauces au yaourt qu’on fait au proche-orient, je sais pas si on retrouve le yaourt cuisiné ainsi, dans d’autres régions…En tout cas ton plat d’aujourd’hui me donne très envie !

  22. Laurie says:

    This must be fantastic!
    All those flavors are so inviting.. and it looks beautiful too!

  23. Melissa Peterman says:

    Hello Joumana,

    We’ve selected you as our Foodista Food Blog of the Day for this Friday, March 12th! Your blog for Fava Bean over Yogurt Stew with Basmati Rice will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours. This is a new feature that we recently launched and are thrilled to post your blog.

    Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Blogger of The Day Community, we’ve created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn’t find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I’ll send it right away.

    We are really enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your recipes, tips and techniques on Foodista! If you would not like to be recognized on Foodista please let me know and I will remove your blog from our queue.



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  24. PJ says:

    I love any dish with yogurt in it!!!!Yummm!!!

  25. tigerfish says:

    My Chinese friend taught me an easy stir-fry of fava beans with green onions. Delish!
    I also made mushy fava beans before. Love it too!

  26. Annalisota says:

    Just finished making and eating this…I used freshed fava beans and goodness me oh my it is delicious!!! Thank you so much!

  27. domi says:

    Bonjour Joumana, avec peu de choses tu arrives à nous faire voyager grâce à ta créativité. Bisous et passe une bonne journée

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