Almost Turkish Recipes

Fava Beans à la Turque (Zeytinyağlı İç Bakla)

Fava beans, aka faba, broad, Windsor, or horse beans, are among the oldest cultivated plants. Although they've been planted and enjoyed in the Middle East, Europe, and South America for millenniums, favas took their sweet time to appear at American markets. I did not eat or try fava beans for the first 25 years of my life; yes, what a waste! In my defense mom cooked them in pods, in those slightly fuzzy pods.

As a kid it seemed like eating caterpillars! I am still reluctant about the pods. The shelled beans, however, are a different story. Fava beans are slightly sweet and have a mild grassy flavor fit for spring. In Turkey, when they're picked young and tender, without letting the beans grow much, they're cooked in pods and served with a gallop of garlicy yogurt on the side. When they're picked a bit later, when the shells and beans got bigger, they are shucked and the beans are peeled to remove the waxy coat. The schucking is easy and fast, and peeling the beans is a bit time consuming, yet totally necessary to perfect the dish. What follows is a traditional springtime olive oil dish recipe for fava beans.

1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled and peeled or 1 pound frozen fava beans (easily available at Middle Eastern markets)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/2 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
1/2 bunch dill, chopped
1 tsp white sugar
salt, a little more than 1 tsp
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup of water
1 tsp flour
juice of half lemon

-Before you peel the beans, mix 1 cup of water with flour and lemon juice. Place beans in the water one by one after peeling to prevent browning. If you boil the beans in water for 30 seconds and blench them it would be much easier to peel them.
-Heat half of the olive oil in a pot and add onions. Cook until soft. Don't let them brown--a big no for olive oil dishes.
-Add sugar, green onions, and garlic. Cook 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.
-Add fava beans with the water they've been sitting in.
-Salt to your taste.
-Make sure the water covers the beans.
-Bring it to a boil on medium and then turn it down to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until beans are cooked.
-Let it cool down in its pot with the lid on before moving it to a serving dish.
-Favas in olive oil like all Turkish olive oil dishes are served and best when at room temperature or cold.
-Drizzle the other half of the olive oil on top and serve with chopped fresh dill.

This dish is usually enjoyed with a nice big slice of crusty bread and garlicy yogurt sauce, but it's still delicious without it.

Garlicy Yogurt
For every cup of yogurt use 1/2 clove minced garlic. If you can handle garlic, raise the amount. Do not go beyond 1 clove per 1 cup of yogurt; others may not handle the garlic on you. Mix yogurt and garlic well, salt to your taste, and serve this sauce on the side of fava beans or on top.


  1. I LOVE fava beans and planted them in my garden a few weeks ago. If the birds would leave the sprouting seeds alone, everything would be peachy! Thank you for the recipe. I look for fava bean recipes and that looks delicious.

  2. Sherry, I'm jealous now that you'll have fresh fava beans in YOUR garden. I hope you'll like the recipe when you try it, too. Let me know how it goes.

  3. i'm not sure i've ever actually eaten fava beans, but now i'm determined to try. thanks for the recipe!

  4. Anonymous7:58 AM

    My mother makes this dish, its my fovorite. The only thing is its hard to find fresh fava beans all the time in my area.

  5. Krista, try looking for frozen fava/broad beans. They're as good as fresh ones.

  6. I love coming here and learning about something I haven't had. I've never seen fresh fava beans here, but now I'll look for frozen ones. (As I am a *lot* older than 25 and haven't had them!) The garlicy yogurt sounds great to me, but I love Tzatziki sauce and raita both and it's a similar idea. Love learning more about Turkish food, thanks!

  7. Kalyn, it's never too late :)
    When you're looking for them, do not forget favas are also called broad beans.

  8. Another version of this is: Shell the large green beans, then peel them. This sounds like a pain (it is) but you can make it easier by shocking them in boiling water for about 20 seconds, then straining. Make a diagonal light score across a bean, then squeeze; it slips right out. For 2 cups of beans add a large onion cut into irregular slivers, salt to taste, and about 1/3 cup of olive oil. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook for only about 12 minutes; they get very tender very quickly. At the very end toss in a couple tablespoons of freshly chopped dill, and add fresh ground pepper. Let cool. Very very good!

  9. Anonymous7:19 AM

    Anyone know about cooking with dried fava beans?

  10. anonymous- you can soak dry fava beans over night and boil them until soft but firm. The you can make the same recipe.

  11. Anonymous12:31 PM

    A friend gave me a lot of fresh fava beans from her own garden, and I decided to try this recipe.
    Burcu, all your recipes are great, and this one is really delicious, especially with garlicly yogurt (I use homemade "qatyq").
    Sazji, thank you for the idea of peeling the beans. Next time, I'll try your version too.

  12. Elena, I envy you: I wish I had a friend to bring me fresh fava beans. I'm glad you like the recipe, since this is one of my all time favorites.

  13. Hi, my name is Pilar and I´m from spain. A friend living in Istambul sent me sumak and köfte bahari so I´m searching the web looking for uses to give to this spices. I came across your blog and I have to congratulate you. it´s a great job you are doing. Thanks for sharing!

    1. hi
      i usually use sumak either with potato salad or fried liver. it gives a savor taste to food, bit like lemon. kofte bahari is a mixture to make kofte. just mix it with mince meat and make small balls. either fried them or grill them

  14. Hi! Thanks for the recipes. Looks healthy and beautiful