Cairo Kitchen
Jonathan Gregson

Besara is a much-loved dish found on many mezza tables. The dip is made with peeled and rehydrated fava beans and lots of herbs, giving it a deep green colour. Besara recipes vary from home to home. In our version, we add the garlic, coriander and cumin seasoning known as ‘tasha’ to give it an added intensity.


Quantity Ingredient
500g dried peeled fava beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, quartered
50g spring onions
50g fresh parsley
50g fresh dill
50g fresh coriander
2 teaspoons salt

For the tasha (garlic coriander seasoning)

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin

For the garnish

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
50g slivered almonds


  1. Soak the fava beans in water overnight.
  2. To make the dip, in a medium-sized pot heat the oil and sauté the onion and spring onion over a medium heat until softened, but not browned. Add the drained fava beans and stir, then pour in 1.5 litres water and let all the ingredients come up to the boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 40 minutes or until the beans are soft and cooked.
  3. Add the parsley, dill and coriander and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the salt.
  4. Cool the besara for 10 minutes, then slowly blend in a food processor, in batches if necessary, for 3 minutes until it is very smooth. Put the mixture in a pan again and let it simmer over a low heat for 5 more minutes until heated through.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat the oil for the tasha and sauté the garlic until slightly browned. Add the ground coriander and cumin and season to taste. Pour the hot mixture into the besara paste. Mix thoroughly and pour into a deep serving bowl to set. Let cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
  6. When you are ready to serve, make the fried onions by heating the oil until hot and then frying the onion until golden brown. Drain on paper napkins to remove any excess oil.
  7. Toast the almonds by placing in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn golden brown.
  8. Garnish the dip with the fried onions and toasted almonds.
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