Flatbread Sopped in Broth of Fava/Broad Beans

Tashreeb/Thareed Bagilla

Preparation info

  • Makes

    4

    servings
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Delights from the Garden of Eden

Delights from the Garden of Eden

By Nawal Nasrallah

Published 2019

  • About

Bagilla (fava/broad beans) are the Iraqi counterpart of the Egyptian fool mudammas. However, the Iraqi variety are larger and fleshier than Egyptian beans. It is the dish to serve for brunch on Fridays, the weekend in Islamic countries.

The dish is invariably prepared without meat, and apparently this was how it has always been served. In the fourteenth-century augmented version of alBaghdadi’s cookbook, Kitab Wasf al-At’ima al-Mu’tada, a variety of thareed recipe calls for boiling fava beans with salt, then sopping broken pieces of bread in the broth, with cumin, sumac, lemon juice, walnuts, yogurt, clarified butter or oil. Indeed, the dish has always been associated with people content with the simplest needs of life.

There was a time, probably up until the mid-1950s, when people used to take their bread to be soaked in a big pot of simmering fava beans prepared by a woman vendor, at the corner of the neighborhood sidewalk. To distinguish which bread belonged to whom, people used to mark their breads with colored threads.

When they came to pick up their dishes, the um ilbagilla (literally ‘mother of beans’) would ask, ‘What’s your color?’

Tashreeb bagilla is not haute cuisine, but it can be served quite attractively, garnished with fried eggs sunny-side up, sprinkled with sumac and crushed butnij (river mint), with some chopped lemon pulp and green onion scattered all over, and drizzled with sizzling hot butter or oil.

Dried fava beans are normally used for making the dish except during the summertime when fully grown fresh fava beans are available. In this case, the jacket is discarded, and the beans are simmered until tender. Alternatively, canned fava beans may be substituted. The dish is better made with slightly stale bread, so that it will not disintegrate when simmered in the broth. One last note, do your guests a favor, and remove the skins from the cooked beans before spreading them on the sopped bread in the serving platter. The skin will most likely be discarded anyway when eating the dish because it is hard on the digestion.