Friday, 8 March 2013

Fava beans in Istanbul

Istanbul is a pretty incredible place that everyone should go see.

Topkapi palace, a Galatasaray game, a cruise along the Bosphorus, Basilica cistern, Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the spice bazaar... so much to see.

But sometimes the age-old adage is true and things that seem too good to be true are just that. The saffron they sell in half kilo- bales at ridiculously low prices - guess if it really is saffron?!

The "try everything" - theme of the trip to Turkey was also executed during the meals. I think it's safe to say lamb brains and I will never be the best of friends. And tripe I won't miss. In any shape or smelly form. However, friends of baclava (each sweeter than the next) will be spoiled rotten in Turkey. As will their teeth...

In addition to the markets and absolute must-see address for foodies is Nevizade Sokak, a narrow street brimming with meze restaurants. And those were the flavours I was pursuing today.

One of my favourites in Turkish mezes is börek, a cigar-shaped spinach and feta-stuffed filo pastry roll. Somewhere in the corners of Nevizade I also fell for fava, a pate made of broad beans which surprised with its use of dill - a herb I did not expect to encounter in Turkish cuisine.

It's supposed to be firm to a point of being cut and served in cubes but...mine just wouldn't set. One clearly does not want to add any liquid into the pure. So, this time it became a dip. Another attempt might follow. Another day. With another set of nerves...


3,5 dl cooked and peeled fava beans
1 small onion
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
1,5 tsp dill
0,5 tsp powdered garlic
salt, white pepper

The recipes I found used dried beans - perhaps that's the first step I went wrong? I used frozen ones (the only ones I found) that I peeled, blanched and fried with the rest of the ingredients. Then I pureed the mixture, added the spices and (misguidedly?) 1 dl of the cooking water in order to get the right paste-like consistency. Then I let it rest overnight, but no setting ever took place. So, I added some olive oil and settled for a dip. That I ate with bread. And it did taste what I remembered the fava to taste like. And it was particularly good with the crisp bread I made. With wrong cumin... (See, sometimes two wrongs do make it right!)

Tip: since the fava beans' own flavour is so delicate and this recipe does not go giddy with any other strong flavours either, you really want to choose a fairly mild-flavoured olive oil for this one- a strong, grassy one easily overpowers the beans too.

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