Bessara

Another memorable meal – this time one generously shared by a farmer near Akhmim, in Upper Egypt. Sadly, I haven’t yet managed to replicate his recipe to match my memory of it.  Green.  Aromatic.  And superbly delicious.

Method

  • Fry an onion and a couple of garlic cloves in a saucepan until softened; add a pinch of ground cumin and salt, then add cooked and well-mashed (or liquidised) ful. Mix in one cup each of finely chopped fresh mint, parsley, and dill. I’ve also tried adding a cup of very finely chopped fresh spinach, and coriander.
  • The idea is to have a thickish, fresh, green, vibrant soup – delicious, with pitta bread!

If I can work out the right proportions, I will recreate that superb meal in an Akhmim field.  If you try?  I think you will enjoy, untainted by false memory.

Options

  • Use the larger, lighter in colour, and skinned dried ful (ful nabed); soaked overnight and stewed.
  • A Palestinian version? Beans soaked, skinned, and stewed until they have broken up. Add a cup of chopped frozen/fresh melokhia (or dried melokhia, rubbed between the palms, to a fine powder). Add fried onion, cumin, and salt and cook through. Blend to a thick, smooth, soupy consistency.
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