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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Fattet Fool Akhdar (Layered Platter of Grean Broad Beans)

As Featured in BBC Good Food MERamadan across the region feature in July issue. 

Photograph by Cris Mejorada, BBC Good Food ME photographer

"A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."  - Gandhi

There are very few flavours I did not like as a child. Fool Akhdar (green broad beans) was one of them! My Dad, however, loves these beans, and any food they go into. So Mum cooked all sorts of foods with these beans, such as Maloubet fool (green broad bean upside down rice dish), Yakhnet Fool Bilaban (Stew of grean broad beans in yogurt sauce), Yakhnet Fool bil Kuzbara (Stew of green broad beans and coriander).... and the list was endless. It was like torture to me, because at that time, I had thought that I did not like green broad beans!

Read on for the recipe...

I had first tried this Fatteh at a neighbour's home in Amman, back when I still thought I disliked this nightmare of a vegetable. We were invited, and it was rude to say "I don't like this!" so I silently swallowed my dislike and absolute horror as the hostess served me a very generous portion of this Fatteh! - Another thing we did not do, is leave food in the plate. - I smiled to her, thanked her and looked at those beans stirring back at me as if in a challenge... I swear I felt like they almost told me 'so what are you going to do now?'. I decided to just eat the freakin' plate-full, no beans shall challenge me! I did, shoving a spoonful after another, in an attempt to finish the lot as fast as anyone can possibly eat! My absolute confusion was in fact, when I realised that the flavour was actually superb! It did taste delicious!! My thoughts were trying to remind me: 'But you don't like these beans!"... my palate was begging to differ: 'But you are loving this!'... I ate the whole plate so fast that the hostess said: "you really like this Fatteh Dima! Shall I put some more for you?" I looked around to make sure no one was looking, nodded slightly in an attempt not to draw mum's attention! Well, because, I always openly expressed my hate for these beans every time she cooked them! I ate until I couldn't no more. Ever since then, I decided that I like green broad beans. I even looked forward for mum's dishes that had these beans, and when I did give them a proper and open minded try, I discovered that they are in fact super delicious! I never looked back.

Boil the beans in salted water, with a dash of olive oil, and use the boiling water for flavouring

Another fabulous version of this dish, I had at my husband's cousin's. Ah! She makes a heavenly version of this fatteh. It seemed that on Ramadan, I was being served some take of this fatteh, where each one is even better than the previous one. So when BBC Good Food ME contacted me for a recipe for their Ramadan Feature, I thought it was only fitting that I share my version of this amazing traditional dish. Because, it reminds me of home, Ramadan, my Dad who loves these beans, my Mum who cooked them regularly in love for Dad, as well as how this dish had changed my mind about a food I thought I disliked!

What I discovered when I actually gave myself a chance to taste was: The bold flavour of these beans, against the aromatic garlic and coriander was the perfect match, and a perfect base for many dishes. With a little help from the meat and bread flavours, the seasoning and the yogurt the whole thing tasted like a deep yet fresh and very summery bouquet of good flavours. In terms of texture, there is a slight crunch from the beans and toasted or fried bread. There is a gentle bite from the meat, then a rushing wave of creaminess from the minted yogurt. The nuts add that strong crunchiness to the whole experience. I just wanted to keep eating, and that I did. So here you go, Fattet Fool Akhdar for you to make and your family to appreciate...

The filling for Fattet Fool Akhdar

Ramadan Recipe 12
Fattet Fool Akhdar
If you like, and for better presentation of this fatteh, you can go the length of plating each serving as I have done for the main photo above. However traditionally it is served in one large platter as in the picture at the end of this post. Do what you prefer and what your time allows, in the end it will taste just as good.

You Need
2 small Thick Pita Breads, cut into bite-size squares
1 packets frozen green broad beans (250g), thawed and thoroughly washed
2 cups chicken or beef broth
250g lamb or veal finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch coriander, washed and finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil Salt & Black pepper to taste

For Yoghurt Sauce  ½ Kg fresh yoghurt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Salt & Black pepper to taste

For Garnish 1 tbsp parsley, washed and finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted or fried pine nuts and almonds

Start by placing the thawed and washed green broad beans in a cooking pot. Top with chicken or beef broth, season with black pepper and salt if needed (if broth is not priorly seasoned), and sprinkle with a dash of olive oil. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat.

Making the Filling

Meanwhile, sauté the finely chopped onion in 1 tbsp olive oil till translucent but not browned. Add finely chopped meat and stir to mix. Season with Salt & Black pepper and cook stirring occasionally until the meat is browned and liquids run out.

While the meat is cooking, in separate skillet, sauté the sliced garlic and finely chopped coriander for about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the coriander mixture to the meat mixture and stir to mix. Ladle some of the broth from the cooking broad beans into the meat mixture and stir to coat. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat.

Combine the meat mixture with the broad beans mixture together with the liquids, and bring to a gentle simmer.

Deep fry or toast the bread squares, till golden, drain on paper towels. Prepare the yoghurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients together.

To assemble, place the toasted or fried bread squares along the bottom of a large serving dish (traditionally a see through glass dish). Top with the broad beans and meat mixture. Spread evenly. Top all with the prepared yoghurt sauce, and spread to cover the whole surface. Sprinkle the tops with the toasted/fried nuts and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve immediately or cold.
Fattet Fool, traditional presentation

I hope that you liked the sounds of this recipe enough to try it, because once you do I know you will be making it often. It is a different flavour from the same old eggplant fatteh, which is fabulous. But change and variety are always nice.

I just want to let you know that I cannot be more excited about you cooking my recipes, the photos are fantastic, and your feedback is amazing. It is like you guys are now telling me what I have been describing to you all this time! I am so happy that you and your families are enjoying the food, being showered with compliments and that you are all stars in your kitchen :) You are truly a cool bunch of readers, and I love you all. So don't forget to keep those photos coming, and hopefully you can win one of the many cool giveaways for Dima's Kitchen Ramadan Special.
Here is a link to the pictures from this blog readers, you can see competition is fierce, so don't miss your chance to win. Start cooking ;)

Don't forget to buy BBC Good Food ME, it is my absolute favourite ME food magazine  :)
Ramadan Kareem