Today I’m sharing a vegetarian dish called Baghali Ghatogh which is a specialty from one of my favorite places in the world, Gilan Province in North of Iran. The northern part of Iran is called ‘Shomal’ (North) by many Iranians. Gilan is near the beautiful lush green Jangal (forest) Mazandaran, the calm and warm Caspian Sea (Daryay Khazar), with endless green rice fields. Once you visit this area the memory of this magical picturesque place will forever stay with you. As a child I visited Shomal almost every year with my parents and loved how the air smelled, how friendly the people were and how happy I was to be close to nature at its best. Few years ago when I traveled back to Iran I once again visited my favorite piece of heaven on earth. So much had changed over the years, the land development had overtaken a lot of the land, numerous private villas were built along the Khazar shorelines. But some things were still the same: The dense green forests, the calm sandy beaches, and that sweet aroma of rice paddies. Yes, I was back in Shomal and no matter what, all those good old feelings came rushing back to me.
Gilan has many popular dishes and one of them is this vegetarian dish called Baghali Ghatogh that is made with broad beans/fava beans, fresh or dried dill, garlic and whole eggs that are poached whole in the dish after it is fully cooked.
Baghali Ghatogh is usually served over Kateh (Quick Persian Steamed Rice) or toasted flat bread.
Just recently our dear old friends of many years visited us for a few days. Though it had been way too long since we had gotten together, the years just disappeared when we met again. The visit was too short but we had a wonderful time.
The other variation to the recipe is that usually after cooking the fava beans with dill, spices, and water the eggs are cracked into the dish and poached until set, I broiled the eggs instead for couple of minutes in the oven really close to the broil element. I love how the egg whites cook perfectly into the dish while the yolks stay soft and perfectly golden, or asali, as we call them in Farsi (meaning with the consistency of honey)!
Serve the Baghali Ghatogh warm with toasted Sangak (Persian flat bread), pita bread, or Kateh (Persian Quick Rice). Add one whole egg on top of each serving. Enjoy!
Cooking time: 30 minutes, Broil time: 2 minutes
You will need a 12-inch cast iron or other oven proof skillet
- Two 14-ounce packages of frozen fava beans, or about 2 pounds of podded and peeled fresh fava beans. Frozen lima beans may be substituted for fava beans.
- ½ cup butter
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¾ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill or ¼ cup dried dill
- 1 large onion sliced and fried to golden brown (about 4 ounces fried onions)
- 3 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the onion
- 2 ½ cups hot water
- 4 eggs, to be cracked whole directly on the cooked fava beans and dill
- Wash the dill by immersing the tops and tender stems in cold water for a few minutes to loosen any possible grit, repeat a few times until the water is clear. Place the dill in a colander and drain all the water before chopping.
- Rinse the frozen fava beans in a colander under warm water to thaw and drain completely.
- Thinly slice the onion and fry to golden brown. Set aside.
- Heat butter in the cast iron or other oven proof skillet and add the fava beans, salt and pepper. Saute over medium high heat for about 7 minutes, or until the beans are lightly golden and most of the natural juice is cooked off. Stir gently and frequently. Be careful not to break up the beans, the dish looks prettier when the beans are left whole.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the fried onions, turmeric, and chopped garlic. Stir and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add chopped dill and hot water, bring it to a boil then reduce heat to the mark between medium low and low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Most cast iron skillets have pour spouts that do not allow a complete coverage. Add more water if needed to maintain about an inch of liquid in the skillet.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven on broil for about 10 minutes, with the rack set on the very top shelf close to the heat element.
- Uncover the skillet and crack the 4 eggs one at a time on top in four corners. Leave some space between the eggs so they do not cook into each other. I find that it is easier to crack the eggs into 4 small bowls and keep them ready and add to the skillet when needed. This also eliminates the chance of accidentally dropping eggshells in the food.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven and broil for up to about 2 minutes, or until the egg white is set.
- Serve warm with toasted bread or Kateh (Persian Quick Rice) and a side of salad. Serve one whole egg on top of each serving.