Lately I have been reading the really interesting cookbook Street Food, which has recipes and vignettes about international “fast” foods that are typically sold by small, independent vendors. I have at least 20 recipes earmarked for future meals, and in most cases they are more of a guideline than a recipe, as street foods evolve out of the necessity of using inexpensive, locally abundant ingredients to feed a lot of hungry people. My first attempt was the really delicious dish called Ful (which essentially means beans), made with dried fava beans and served in a communal dish with a number of optional complements. This was incredibly good:
At its heart this dish is just dried, seasoned fava beans, cooked until they soften and begin to break up. I used dried favas from Bob’s Red Mill, and they are also available in bulk at some natural food stores. Note that they are often sold as Broad Beans. Favas are not that widely used in the U.S., which is a shame, because they have an incredibly rich, almost smokey flavor. Texturally they are similar to Lima beans, but their flavor is more complex. The dried beans from Bob’s Red Mill are pre-husked (favas have a thin outer husk that is removed).
I read a fair amount of conflicting information regarding how to prepare dried favas, ranging from no soaking time at all, to soaking for at least 12 hours. I ended up experimenting with a two-hour soak followed by about two hours of cooking time. I added in some crushed garlic and chopped shallots for flavor, and when the beans were fully cooked I stirred in some salt. After about an hour of cooking I used a potato masher to crush up the beans a bit, which made for a creamy end texture and probably also reduced the cooking time. I added water several times and in the end I let the liquid cook away almost completely. To serve, I used some of the traditional compliments of fresh cilantro, feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and some flat bread to scoop up the luscious beans. This is not fast food, nor does it taste like it–totally delicious. You should try it.
I will be doing the book giveaway drawing tomorrow, so if you want to enter, remember to leave a comment after that post. More street food coming up…
Thanks for reading,