My uncle Mark is a fantastic cook and I always look forward to his contributions when the family gets together.
His creations are most often vegetarian and gluten-free (to suit my aunt) and are always packed with fragrant spices and strong flavours, thanks to his Indian heritage and influences from Middle-Eastern cuisine (think Yotam Ottolenghi’s style).
I remember the first time I ate this salad, it stopped me in my tracks.
Each mouthful just seemed to get better and better than the last. The balance of spices, different textures and heat mingling together – earthy, grassy broad beans; caramelised onions spiked with chilli, curry leaves and cumin; the crunch of toasty croutons; cooling, lemon-garlic yoghurt and fragrant, fresh mint to top it all off…
It really is a revelation.
I of course asked for the recipe (before I’d even scraped my plate clean) and uncle Mark kindly obliged. But I was inexplicably left disappointed and scratching my head the first time I made it, as it totally lacked the intensity and intrinsic layers of seasoning that initially blew my mind…
Essentially, it lacked the MAGIC.
So we arranged a weekend cooking date and I showed up, camera and tripod – and tastebuds – at the ready to capture the creation of this dish. It had undergone some refining in the meantime with the addition of oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, adding vibrant colour and a subtle sweetness to the palate. My aunt and uncle have a curry tree in their yard and the freshly picked leaves seem to make a huge difference to the overall final flavour.
We also used the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes in another great ‘salad’ of feta shards, chargrilled chilli peppers, toasted walnuts and balsamic dressing (see the photo below).
Vegetarians and carnivores alike – enjoy!
moroccan broad bean salad with yoghurt dressing
2 punnets of mixed cherry tomatoes
a few springs of oregano and thyme, leaves chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, chopped (not ground)
1 dried chilli, finely chopped (or more, depending how hot you like it)
10 fresh curry leaves
2 – 3 slices of bread (gluten-free preferably), toasted and roughly diced
handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
2 – 3 cups broad beans (frozen or fresh), shelled and pods removed
zest and juice from 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups thick greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped to a paste
juice from 1 lemon
Preheat your oven to 250°C.
Place the cherry tomatoes in a large baking dish, scatter over the chopped garlic, oregano and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for half an hour, or until the tomatoes are blistered and roasted.
Remove and set aside to cool.
If you’re using fresh broad beans, blanch them in unsalted boiling water for a couple of minutes (they should still have bite). Remove, run under cold water to stop the cooking process and drain, laying on a tray to cool down slightly.
Place the broad beans in a bowl and dress with lemon juice and olive oil (about a 1:3 ratio, one tablespoon of lemon juice to three tablespoons of oil).
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and taste to make sure the flavours are balanced. Add a little more lemon juice if needed and then let the beans marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a large, shallow bowl (which can also be used as the serving bowl), mix the yoghurt with the garlic paste, remaining lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Taste to ensure the flavours are balanced, adjust if needed and place in fridge until needed.
Heat a little olive oil in a large, shallow pan over medium-low. Add the chopped onion, cumin seeds, chilli and curry leaves, stirring and cooking until the onions are soft.
As the onions start to colour, turn up the heat slightly, add the diced bread and combine thoroughly with the onions. Continue to cook, stirring constantly (watch it very carefully!) until the bread is crispy and golden. Season to taste and set aside to cool slightly.
When ready to serve, add the mint leaves to the broad beans and toss through, before scattering on top of the yoghurt. Scatter over the spiced croutons and onions and finally, top with the roasted tomatoes.
Lightly sprinkle some lemon zest on top, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive and serve immediately.