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  • Writer's pictureFarideh Goldin

Baghali Ghatogh: Fava Beans and Dill Stew

Searching for a vegetarian recipe for Passover, my daughter came across one from northern Iran, Baghali Ghatogh. Baghali means fava beans in Persian.

In many ways, Passover is a celebration of Spring in Iran. We had a tray of sprouts, spring onions, rhubarb, kangar (a thorny vegetable of artichoke family), and boiled fava beans on our Passover Sofreh, a cloth spread over a Persian carpet, around which we gathered to have our meals.

Unlike Ashkenazi Jews, Persian Jews eat rice and some beans during Passover.

The recipe took me back to a time I visited the area by the Caspian Sea for the first time.

The summer of 1969 was a magical time for me, a time of many firsts! I was allowed for the first time to leave home to travel north to the Caspian Sea to participate in a writing competition. Two of my classmates and I had been creating a weekly news bulletin for our high school. We were elected to represent our city in the national competition. I was the writer; they were the illustrator and the calligrapher.

Photograph: Creating our newspaper at the competition. I am in the upper left corner

Shiraz, my hometown, was nestled among mountains in southern Iran. I was used to living in the dry climate of the desert that surrounded the city. Seeing the vast forests, the unfamiliar vegetation, and water rushing down the mountains felt unreal. I had never seen a river, a swimming pool, or any large body of water. The waves were more stunning than the images I had created in my mind of oceans and seas.

The tea farms and the rice paddies were just an introduction to the beauty of northern Iran. We all returned to Shiraz with jars of orange blossom and citron jam. The food of the north was unfamiliar, unique, and delicious.

The recipe:

  • 1 package (1 lb) dried lima beans or fresh or frozen fava beans

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 1/2 cup minced fresh garlic

  • 2 bunches, chopped fresh dill, about 2 cups

  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 tsp. turmeric

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup fresh lemon or lime juice

  • 1 cup hot water or the liquid reserved from boiled beans

1. Soak the beans in salted water overnight, if possible.

2. Drain the beans, put them in a large pot of cold salted water, and bring them to boil.

Cook the beans over medium heat until it starts to simmer.

Cook for about 25 minutes or until the beans are tender, but not too soft. Drain, but save a cup of the liquid.

If you are using fava beans, cook them until tender, but not too soft (about 5 minutes).

You can find frozen fava beans in Middle Eastern grocery stores. If they are not double peeled, you may remove the outer skin or leave them on for extra flavor. This is a personal choice.

Sauté the onions in olive oil and turmeric until they are golden.

Add garlic and stir for just a few minutes.

Add lemon juice, hot water, dill, salt, pepper, cooked beans, and stir well. Let the mixture cook for about 10 min.

At this point, the stew is vegan. You may serve it over quinoa or Persian rice. Or, you may add two or three eggs and let them poach for a few minutes, or you may add cooked chicken thighs.

The stew with fava beans....

The stew with large lima beans....

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