Fava beans, pronounced fool in this part of the world, are a much beloved vegetable. They are made into a delicious salad when still young (and their pods still tiny), using the entire stalk. They are stir-fried in a garlic and herb sauce, smothered in olive oil, then boiled till tender. The stalks turn very soft and get infused with the garlic and herb flavor. Cilantro, called kozbara, is the most popular herb used in this dish.
The image above shows Salah, a farmer of Egyptian origin, splitting open the tender fava stalk to show the baby bean. Egyptians love their fava fool very much; they make a street food with it (so do the Lebanese), called mudammas, which is a boiled fava bean soup, and the famous ta’amia aka falafel.
The only problem with this dish is that it is not photogenic. However, its taste is just delightful and it melts in the mouth.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 head of garlic (or less, to taste), peeled and mashed in a mortar or food processor with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (or a mixture of fresh chopped herbs like Italian parsley and mint)
- 2 pounds fresh fava beans in the stalks (tender stalks), cut into two-inch pieces
- 2 cups of water (add more if needed)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and fry the onions till golden. Add the garlic and cilantro and fry a few seconds till the mixture gets fragrant. Add the stalks and stir-fry a few minutes. Add the water and bring to a simmer; let the stalks cook gently for about 15 minutes or until tender, adding the lemon juice at the end of cooking. Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: If the stalks have strings, remove them prior to cutting them. Another way to cook this dish is to boil the stalks first and add the garlic and chopped cilantro sauce at the end.
NOTE: Personally, I like to add the cilantro and garlic mixture at the end of cooking to keep the flavors fresh and pungent. If you are like me, fry the onion, add the stalks, boil them till soft and finally add the garlic and cilantro previously stir-fried in olive oil for a few seconds in a small skillet.
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