Mary Kay Radnich
Beans come in all sizes, shapes and colors. They are found in all parts of the world and provide an inexpensive protein source for a vast number of the worlds population. Known as a "powerhouse" food by nutritionists, beans are low in calorie while being very rich in their nutrient content.
Fava beans are broad beans (spp: Vicia faba), and the word comes from the Latin, faba, meaning, broad bean. In reality, there are both small and large broad beans. If you find fava beans in the produce department of your grocer, you will see a large, no, really a huge green pod, much larger than your standard green bean (haricot verte.) They also come in bags of dried beans, which are dark reddish brown in color with a very dark, short, stripe on them. Dried, shelled beans are also available in bags and are pale yellow in color.
Large broad beans are used for Tamiyya, or seasoned, fried bean patties, which is our recipe choice for the month. Small fava beans are used in the very popular Fuul Medamis, which we will have a taste of next month.
Tamiyya is a classic local Egyptian dish. While known in other parts of the Mediterranean as falafel, it is very commonly served as part of the mezze or appetizer course in Egypt. You will also see it served as a main course, as the "hamburger" of the Middle East, in a pita round with lettuce and tomato.
As a different sort of recipe challenge, I decided to have a taste test with my family, serving first Tamiyya made from a commercial mix, from Egypt, that was purchased at Sindibads Import Co. in Rochester, NY. The package contains finely ground or powdered broad beans with seasonings. Water is added, patties are formed by hand and the patties are then fried. And the vote? My family gave it a thumbs up, no recount necessary. Later that evening I prepared my dried, shelled beans by soaking them, anticipating making tamiyya from scratch the next day.
And so, the next day, Sunday actually, I begin to prepare my tamiyya. I found myself up to my elbows in beans. While the homemade tamiyya was even more satisfying to the family than the pre-packaged kind, I found myself in need of a meat grinder. My initial grinding of the beans and seasonings in my food processor was woefully inadequate, as my patties fell apart during the frying process. Before I got too far into this project, I put the mixture through my food processor a second time, resulting in a finer mince. The patties then stayed together during frying. The vote this time around? A resounding two thumbs up!
Oh, yes, and dessert? We had Roz bi Laban aka rice pudding, with raisins and cinnamon. Very tasty and very satisfying to all of the sweet-toothed guests at my table.
TAMIYYA (or Falafel) Bean Cakes
* 2 cups skinned white broad beans
* cup fresh dill leaves
* cup coriander leaves
* 2 onions*
* 10 garlic cloves*
* cup parsley leaves
* 1 small leek, stalk only
* 1 teaspoon cumin
* teaspoon cayenne pepper (or chili pepper powder)
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1-2 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
* Cooking oil ( I used canola oil)
Soak the beans overnight. (If your beans are in the shell, then soak them overnight, and remove the brown outer shell.) Drain and mince** the beans with the ingredients dill through leek. Add spices, seasonings and baking soda, then knead. Let stand at room temperature 30-60 minutes.
With a wet spoon or fingers, scoop a small amount of mixture and shape into flat disks, about 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle one side with sesame seeds and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown in color. Remove onto absorbent paper. Serve either as an appetizer or as a sandwich filling with lettuce and tomato. We added roasted red sweet peppers to our sandwich for an especially delicious treat.
* *more or less to taste
* **mince with either a food processor, a meat grinder, blender or food mill. You want the minced beans ( and the herbs) to be a very fine mince.
Roz bi laban (Rice pudding)
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 cups milk
* cup rice
Dissolve sugar in milk, add rice and cook over a low flame until the rice is tender. This is the basic recipe and it is usually served cold. Stir raisins into the pudding and sprinkle some powdered cinnamon on top before serving.