Friday, 6 July 2012

Caspian broad bean braise with garlic, dill and lime

Broad beans (favas) with garlic, dill and lime
This is my absolutely favourite thing to do with my very favourite spring beans. Garlic and dill are a classic combination that packs quite a punch, but this dish seems to go down well with grown-ups and kids alike (all except the Young Man, who has a thing about broad beans (and dill, for that matter)).

The recipe is adapted from one in Najmieh Batmanglij's glorious romp through the veggie side of Iranian, Afghan and Central Asian food, Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. I adore Najmieh and love the way she can make something totally exotic and moreish out of basic ingredients. This is such a dish, and can be served with rice as a main course, or with bread as an unusual appetiser (I once took it to a pot-luck party, right in its frying pan).
Don't baulk at the head of garlic called for here. The beans can take it, believe me! And make sure you do peel the beans. It's a pain, I know, but it makes all the difference.

Najmieh says this dish is from Gilan. We didn't visit Gilan during our trip to Iran a few years back, but it was broad bean season when we were there (April-May), and our hostess in Esfahan made vinegared broad beans that the rest of us munched on while waiting for the then Much Younger Man to recover from a bout of travel exhaustion.

Actually, the Iranians seem to have a great appreciation for the broad bean. A classic dish of the Persian New Year (March 20 or 21) is baqala polo or rice with broad beans and dill. You can see Najmieh herself showing Martha Stewart how it's done here.

The broad bean season is a little later here in Japan. Luckily I have some in the fridge for another round this weekend.

Caspian broad bean braise with garlic, dill and lime

Serves 4 (or more if served as an appetiser)

500 g podded and skinned broad beans
1 tbsp vegetable oil, butter or ghee
1 bulb garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp fresh lime juice (preferably Persian lime juice)
1 cup water
1 cup chopped fresh dill, or to taste
4 large eggs

1 Heat the fat in a wok or deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 min. Add the broad beans, salt, pepper, turmeric and lime juice and stir-fry for 5 min. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce  heat, cover and simmer on medium-low hear for 15-20 min of until the beans are done. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add the dill.

2 Just before serving, break the eggs gently over the beans, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, cover and allow to simmer for 5-8 min, until the eggs are set.


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