‘I can understand that the way we eat in the Middle East can be overwhelming for some. We do like to fill the table with a myriad of dishes both hot and cold, with an abundance of colour, variety and both meat and vegetables. Of course, not every day has to be a feast.’
So says Sabrina Ghayour in her introduction to her enticing new cookbook, Persiana: Recipes From The Middle East & Beyond (Octopus, £25). She offers plenty of simple, uncomplicated dishes such as this, our pick for an easy but fragrant, nourishing mid-week recipe. But we have to disagree with Ghayour – you may only have one dish on the table at the end of this, but it will still be a feast.
‘This dish hails from the northern provinces of Iran,’ says Ghayour. ‘The first time I had this dish as a youngster, it blew my mind. I had never tried anything quite like it; fiercely garlicky and ridiculously tasty, it is not a very mainstream Persian dish, which explains why it was so alien to me at the time. Now when I make it, I sometimes stir the mixture into cooked white rice, as I find this the most satisfying rice dish you could ever want to eat.’
Serves: 4 as a mezze plate or two as a main with rice
1 garlic bulb, cloves bashed and thinly sliced
1kg (2lb 4oz) podded fresh or frozen broad beans, skins removed
3 tsp turmeric
a generous tsp crushed sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 x 20g packets of dill, stalks and leaves finely chopped
knob of butter (about 25g/1oz)
4 large free-range eggs
- Heat a large deep frying pan over a low-medium heat, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and sweat the garlic until it softens and becomes slightly translucent. Add the broad beans and increase the heat to medium, then add the turmeric, sea salt and some black pepper and stir well. After 5 minutes, mix in the chopped dill and cook for a further 8 minutes or so.
- Add the butter to the pan and let it melt into the beans. Crack the eggs on to the surface of the beans in different areas and allow them to cook through using the heat from the beans. Give the pan a shake to distribute the egg whites. This will take about 15 minutes, at which point the beans will have changed from a bright green to a slightly more dull green – but don’t panic because this is how they should be.
- Serve this dish with flatbread, which is perfect for scooping up the delicious garlicky beans and soft oozy eggs. Alternatively, serve with naan, flour tortilla wraps or white rice.
Photograph: Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton