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Echoes of Ancient Egypt. Broad Bean Patties with pitta bread, minted cucumber salad, pickled cucumbers and spinach. . . . Vegan . . .

broad bean patties + pitta + cucumber salad+ pickled cucumbers + spinach ribbons

Despite controversy, there seems to be reasonable certainty that falafel may well have originated in Egypt, and were made using Fava Beans. Fava Beans are a type of Broad Bean, and are grown in many countries.

In fact, I’ve just sown some at my allotment, as certain varieties over-winter happily, and beat the dreaded blackfly that make an appearance in June. ( But that’s another story).

Another random fact: according to Wikipedia: the word falafel originates from “The word Falāfil (Arabic: فلافل‎), which is the plural of Filfil (فلفل), meaning “pepper”.

Below is my recipe  for Broad Bean Patties, with lots of delicious ingredients and plenty of coarse ground black pepper.  They don’t need veganising, as they always have been, and always will be: vegan.

I love a mezze; so many different flavours and tastes to conjure with so I decided to accompany the patties with my very own homemade pitta bread (which puts all shop-bought pitta in the shade, believe me), a cucumber salad in a minted tahini yogurt dressing, finely chopped spinach, and sharp cucumber pickles.

A feast of greenness.

filled pitta bread

Unlike some versions of Fava Falafel, I have used frozen baby broad beans, primarily for convenience.



Serves 4



  • 320gms. Frozen Baby Broad Beans
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 small white onion
  • 3 tsps. ground coriander
  • 2 tsps. ground cumin
  • 2tsps black pepper
  • large handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbs. dried parsley (or 2 tbs. fresh parsley)
  • 1 scant tsp. salt
  • several tbs. sesame seeds
  • several tbs. olive oil


Cucumber salad:

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 6tbs. non-dairy yogurt
  • 2tbs. tahini
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsps. dried mint ( or 1 tbs. chopped fresh mint)


  • Several handfuls Baby Leaf Spinach


  • Blanch the broad beans in boiling water for 2-3 mins.
  • Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  • Roughly chop the onions.
  • Crush the garlic.
  • Roughly chop the herbs.
  • Place beans, chopped onions, crushed garlic, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground black pepper, salt, chopped fresh coriander and parsley in a blender.  Blitz to a fairly smooth paste.
  •  This process can also be done in a large bowl, mashing the beans, and chopping onions and herbs much more finely.
  • Transfer the paste from the food processor into a bowl, and if it’s a little sticky, add up to 1 tbs. gram flour ( chickpea flour).
  • Take a dessert spoonful of paste and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball.  Repeat until all mixture is gone.  12 – 15 patties.
  • Then flatten the patties.
  • Sprinkle ample sesame seeds on a large plate, and coat the patties on both sides with the seeds.
  • Place the patties on a plate and refrigerate for about an hour.
  • While the patties are chilling: 
  • Grate 1/2 a cucumber, and squeeze out some of the excess cucumber juice by wrapping it in sheets of kitchen towel and squeezing.
  • Mix yogurt and tahini together.
  • Season.
  • Add grated cucumber to the yogurt mix, sprinkle with mint and refrigerate.
  • Wash and cut the spinach leaves into thin ribbons.



Makes 4

homemade pitta bread – wrapped in a towel to keep soft


  • 250gms.  Plain Flour ( I used a mix of strong white wheat flour and wholemeal spelt)
  • 5gms. fast yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs. olive oil (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 160ml. warm water


  • Mix dry ingredients together, and then add optional olive oil, and then stir in the warm water until you have a soft moist dough.  Knead for a few minutes, then cover with damp kitchen towel and leave in a warm place, such as a recently-warmed, but switched off oven to rise.
  • After 10 mins. knead the dough again for a few minutes and return, covered, to the warm place.  After a further 10 mins. repeat this process once more.  Leave to rise for another 10-15mins.
  • When the pitta dough is ready, slice into 4 pieces and lay out on lightly oiled baking tray.  Press the dough into oval shapes about 1cm thick.
  • Preheat oven to the highest setting.
  • *The Pitta will take 10-12 mins to bake in a very hot oven.*
  • Place an oven-proof ceramic dish on the lowest shelf of the oven to keep the batches of patties warm, leaving the highest shelf for the pitta bread.


  • Fry the patties:
  • In a wide heavy pan, pour enough oil to cover the surface to a depth of 1- 1.5 cm.
  • Heat the oil med. – high heat, until a crumb of bread sizzles instantly when put in the pan.
  • Start frying the broad bean patties in batches, when the oil is hot enough.
  • They need 3-4 mins. each side.
  • You will need to adjust the heat setting to slightly lower, in order to keep the oil hot without burning the patties.
  • Place the pitta in the hot oven for 10-12 mins. 
  • Continue frying patties 4-5 at a time until all are done.
  • Keep them warm in the warmed dish in the oven…..
  • To serve, wrap the pitta in a clean tea-towel to keep them soft and warm.








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