We have hardly been prolific of late, both of us busy as bees. Things are about to change. Raw Earth Month is about to commence, more of that later.
It’s great to be getting back in the blog flow, so I thought I’d start with a simple little stew that we love, get warmed up gently. So its semi-official, the Beach House is back and in many ways, better than ever!!!!!!!
I love broad beans. They are surprisingly one of Britian’s most ancient crops and we used to make bread out of it until our seafaring sorts brought wheat to these shore. I haven’t tried broad bean bread, but it sounds mighty.
This is a simple stew and ideal for a midweek dinner, hearty and superbly healthy, it also only takes a short time to prepare.
This may well be the national dish of Egypt, but it’s also served throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Ful (I like to mispronounce it ‘fool’) Medames is a rich, spiced stew that was a true food revelation when I ate it in Cairo old town all those years ago (seven to be exact). The food of Egypt was a pleasant surprise, as it does not have the reputation of say Lebanon or Iran. I can think of one little restaurant, buffet style, with fresh flat bread, heavenly light hummus and a large dollop of this on a steel plate. You can keep your Michelin star joints, this was real food, heart and soul. They also showed very entertaining Egyptian TV and a beautiful recitation of the Koran, it was a multi-media feast.
This dish is equalled by an Arabian recipe, heavy on the tahini and tomato, which transports broad (fava) beans to something supreme. I’ll be whipping that up in the future for sure. Broad beans have such a great, chewy texture, they are great fodder for visiting meat eaters and would sate any ravenous carnivore, especially if you serve topped with a fried egg and lashing of warm bread. YUM, YUM……
Alas, we live halfway up the hill in sunny Wales and my duty in the Beach House Kitchen it to bring the flavours of the world into our lovely little cottage. Last night it was flavours of the pharaohs that we dined on and no, we were not walking like an Egyptian afterwards.
The Bits – For 6-8
1kg whole dried fava beans, 3 garlic clove (blended), 1 red onion (blended), 50g fresh coriander, 25g fresh parsley, 1 large lemons (juice and zest), 1 small hot chilli (finely sliced), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, 700ml good tomato passata, 3 heaped tsp tomato puree
3 heaped tsp brown sugar, 100ml olive oil, sea salt and black pepper
Add a tablespoon of light tahini for added richness.
Soak the beans overnight. Drain, place in a pan, cover with plenty of water and cook for around one hour until tender.
Toast cumin seeds for 3 minutes in a hot frying pan, no oil, pop in a pestle and mortar and grind (ground cumin is also fine, but just not as good)
Blend the onion and garlic in a food processor, then fry gently in a little oil. Meanwhile, chop and mix the herbs, oil, lemon juice, chilli and spices.
Add this mixture to the onions and garlic, then cook for a few minutes. Add the passata and tomato puree plus 100ml of fresh water, which you can first use to wash the remains of the passata out of the jar or packet it came in.
Cook for a ten more minutes and then add the beans. Continue to simmer and taste – adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper. The beans will be ready as soon as the seasoning is balanced and the sauce is nice and thick.
Eat straight away or allow it to cool, divide into portions and freeze. It’s traditionally eaten with warm pitta bread, plus tomato and cucumber salad.
We Love It!
I love bringing the flavours of the bustling streets of Cairo into our quiet little kitchen. Food evokes so many memories of travel for me and these flavours are allow me to relive days and nights in more exotic times. I love Wales, but its good to mix things up, regularly.
Broad beans offer awesome levels of fibre, keeping the belly and below very happy. They are full of folate, which lessens heart issues and other nasty diseases. A cup of broad beans contains 40% of your daily iron (and fibre) and is a brilliant source of lean protein. They are also easy to grow and even grow well in our windswept veg patch.