This is a popular stew made especially in the Spring season when fava beans are freshly picked and offered on the side of the road going to the mountains or in the city’s greengrocers. A vegetarian version can be prepared by simply omitting adding the meat (and stock) to the stew and replacing them with water.
In the South of the country, it is called fustukiyeh, for fustuk (meaning pistachios); I am assuming it is because the still green beans look like pistachios against the white sauce. However, the stew is made without the cilantro sauce.
There are many many ways to cook fava beans. In the US, I usually buy them frozen at the Middle-Eastern market and boil or steam them a few minutes.
This stew consists of a meat-based broth in which chunks of meat or lamb shanks are slowly simmered. The fava beans are added, then the yogurt, thickened with cornstarch and one egg. A few tablespoons of cilantro pesto are added at the last minute for a boost of flavor.INGREDIENTS:
- 1 lb fava beans (green), either fresh or frozen
- 1 lb lamb shanks with bones or stew meat
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped and mashed in a mortar with 1 tsp of salt
- 1 lb plain yogurt
- 1 large onion, quartered
- a few black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch diluted in 1/3 cup of water (add more if the sauce is not thickening)
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large soup pot and brown the meat; add water to cover and pepper and the chunks of onion. Cover, bring to a simmer and maintain a simmer for 40 minutes or until the meat is cooked. Strain the stock and break the meat into chunks, discarding fat and bones. Set the meat aside.
- Add the fava beans to the meat stock and cook them until done (time will vary depending on whether the beans are frozen or fresh). Reduce the stock to about 2 cups before adding the yogurt.
- Add the yogurt back in the soup pot. Add the cornstarch and egg and stir in the same direction with a wooden spoon until the mixture is slightly thickened. The yogurt and stock need to simmer for a while.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a small skillet; add the mashed garlic and cilantro and stir for 3 seconds until the cilantro is fragrant and the mixture gets lumpy. Set aside. Add the meat back to the yogurt sauce, add the cilantro pesto and stir; taste to adjust the amount of salt and serve warm with rice or pasta. (Rice is traditional)
NOTE: One version of this dish consists in cooking rice and adding it to the yogurt sauce alongside the meat. The cilantro can be replaced with dried mint instead; one tablespoon of crumbled dried mint should suffice and can be fried for 3 seconds in the oil with the mashed garlic.
The cilantro pesto can be cooked and frozen ahead and added at the last minute when serving.
If using fresh fava beans, they need to be shucked and peeled. The skin on these beans is kind of hard to digest for some people.
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