Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Persian influenced pulav with ground turkey and fava beans

Salt - there is a saying in Tamil "foods without salt are fit for the trash". Most Indians I know usually prefer salty/spicy foods over sweets. I love my sweets but given a choice I would choose salty foods over sweets 8 out of 10 times. We all know that the amount of salt added in foods literally varies from household to household. My mom thinks that I add too much of salt whereas my in-laws feel I add too little. While my parent's maybe on the extreme end of the scale with salt just sprinkled on foods I tend to be careful as it easy to add on but not take out.

Salt is the cheapest condiment available in the grocery stores today which makes it easy to add a lot. The sodium that we consume that has been added while cooking is perhaps a very meager amount compared to the amount we eat in total everyday. We perhaps already know but tend not to think too much about it, at least I don't, that a major portion of our Sodium consumption comes from prepared foods. We all know that salt is a preservative as as well as a flavor enhancer. Every mouthful of prepared food we eat increases our chances of exceeding our daily requirement.

Pop Quiz: Does your breakfast cereal contain Sodium? If your answer is yes or no check the nutrition information on the box and be very surprised.

The amount of salt required for our foods like everything else is an acquired habit. The taste buds adapt to the amount to salt that has been added.

We by now are programmed to check for fats and sugars on all the prepared foods but checking for Sodium is not that common of a habit. We started doing it recently and the prepackaged foods are a sodium lovers dream. While the dangers of fat and sugars are well publicized the hidden creeping danger of salt is left unsaid - blood pressure, hypertension to name a few.

I implore you to read this article in the New York Time if you have not already done so - The Hard Sell on Salt

I tasted this amazing Persian rice dish with lamb(chicken) and fava beans at my neighbor's and have been on the hunt for the recipe. For some reason I searched for a chicken fava bean rice recipe and none of them seemed like the right one. I realize it was a lamb and fava beans only as I am typing this. Our friends could have asked well asked for a chicken substitution. Whatever it was, tasted very similar to our own biryani. It could have been this Baqala Pollo.

It also had creamy fava beans in the mix. I think the take out place had used fresh fava beans and not dried ones like I did.

I had purchased a bag of the beans and they were sitting in the pantry for God knows how long. Nupur's Ful Medames almost pushed me in that direction. The push was not strong enough and the bag of fava beans languished longer. Nupur's comments on the skin of the beans made me do a bit of research and most of them said to remove them after soaking and then cook.

I did not have dill or sumac or any other Persian spice. All I had was some Moroccan seasoning which has been languishing for a while as well. This I think will satisfy Nupur's Blog Bites 4 criteria and off it goes.

We had guests that day, every single person liked the rice dish. A bit of extra butter would not have hurt for sure. The rice mushed together because of the overcooked fava beans, if the beans had been cooked just right, the rice would have looked a lot better. But it did not matter, it still tasted great.

1. 1 Cup rice (I used Seeraga Samba rice)Basmati would be perfect
2. 1 Cup fava beans soaked and skin removed
3. 1 Cup onion sliced
4. 5 garlic cloves sliced
6. 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
7. 1 heaped tablespoon of Moroccan Spice mix (substitute with any spice of your liking)
8. 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
9. 1 lb minced turkey
10. handful of chopped coriander leaves (substitute with dill leaves)
11. seasonings: bay leaves
12. salt to taste
13. 2 tsp oil (+ 2 tsp of butter)

1. Wash and soak the rice for at least 30 minutes
2. Precook the fava beans till they are half cooked (I overcooked, make sure they are whole)
3. In a pressure cooker heat oil and add the seasonings
4. Add in the onions and saute till translucent, add the garlic and saute for a minute
5. Add in the minced turkey and cook for 6-8 minutes till the turkey turns white and is mostly cooked.
6.At this stage set a pot of water as required for the rice to boil
7. Add the spice mix and chili powder and mix it in
8. Add the tomatoes and saute till they are soft
9. Add the rice and mix well and let it saute for 2-3 minutes
10. Add the boiling water and let cook on medium heat till the rice is cooked half way.
11. Add the coriander leaves, close the lid and put the whistle on for the pressure and cooker and cook for 8 minutes more.

Let cool and fluff the rice and serve with cucumber raita.

Notes: For stove method check the instructions on this recipe.


  1. Regarding salt, ISG, have you tried kosher salt? I always use this -- Diamond brand. As it's coarser than regular table salt, and more flavorful, I seem to use less.

    The pulav with fava beans looks delicious! I haven't dared try those beans yet but hmm... :)

  2. This recipe with fava beans sounds delicious. i have a half-empty pack of fava from the fava bean dip that i am sure would love to be part of this pulav.. definitely on my to-make list.

  3. I love rice dishes like this. Well here we never have cereals in the morning nobody likes it.

  4. I check sugar and Sodium when I buy food packages and V8 cans too. I am amazed to see there is so much less salt in "Less Sodium" cans than regular one. Cereals, I am more concerned with amount of sugar they have, my son likes Wheaties. I just grab a slice of brown bread everyday for breakfast.

    My mother always used brownish rock salt for saaru, palya etc in India. Table salt we buy here is intensely salty, got to be careful when we add salt.I use Kosher salt too, Pearly white in color, not brown as rock salt and lot less salty too, very mild, need to add more and cost more as well.
    Fava beans are hard to find for me here, tried to once when I was cooking for an event to make Falafel then used baby butter beans instead!:)

    Rice looks delicious, Turkey and Fava, great combo.

  5. Of late, our salt has been v v salty, I didn't change the brand, but I know that companies change the composition of various things to keep prices from going up, etc, am guessing maybe it's something like that.

    I'm hungry now and was craving noodles, now I crave pulav. Crazy!

  6. ISG, interesting recipe, and I have never eaten turkey, i will try to substitute it with chicken.

  7. oh man!!! I tried to cook using dried fava beans once and we ate it with the skin.. didn't like it. the fava beans went to reside in the back corner of the cupboard and was eventually tossed away when I was on a purging spree.

    will give it a try soon. I have tons of recipes from your blog bookmarked, just no time to try them.

  8. I am the "low salt" kind of person.

    But the Persian Pulav sounds exotic. I once got a canned fava beans that was not likable, but I think that was because of the canned variety. This sound too good

  9. I do read the sodium label and try to get the low sodium whenever i can. i cook with less salt and that appears to be very less salt for some but just right for me ;-)

    This recipe sounds amazing! I think the season for me to get the fresh fava is gone (we see them during spring), but will try my hands on the dried ones.

  10. I use sea salt and very little too. Usually the excess sodium intake comes from packed chips and savoury stuff that we tend to overlook.
    Love the sound of that pulav. Minced meat did you say ... am all for it in any dish. :-)

  11. Pulav looks scrumptious!

  12. Thanks for the great entry for BB4- wonderful to lead up rice with two protein sources!

    Your comments on salt are timely- yes processed food has a truly mind-boggling amount of salt. What do they put in it to make it so addictive, I've wondered? The answer is salt, plain and simple!
    That's the best thing about home cooked food, even if you add salt with a slightly heavy hand (which I do), you can't come close to what processed food contains.

  13. I will try the recipe! thanks for sharing


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