Fava Bean Balls with Cranberry-Tomato Chutney

My, it feels as if it’s been a while since I’ve posted something new! Here at the DDD household, 2012 is off to a fairly slow start.  I had fully intended to post this recipe last week, but was sidelined by a wiley sinus infection that has had me drinking ginger tea, irrigating my nasal passages (but only after I boil my water carefully!), and taking all manner of naturopath-prescribed herbal remedies to try to stave off the need for antibiotics.  So far it’s been one sneeze forward, two sneezes back. . . I’m functioning. . . but barely.

So, since I’ve hardly cooked anything all year (heh heh), I thought I’d take y’all for a little trip down memory lane today (well, actually, more like just “a few steps down memory lane,” since we’re only heading as far back as December 25th, 2011.). It was at our Christmas dinner last year that I first concocted this recipe for Indian-spiced fava bean balls.

I don’t know about you, but it took me a long time to come round to trying the fearful fava. And it all stems from my love of popular culture.  Movies, to be exact.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been ill suited to watching scary movies–and that includes sci-fi thrillers, horror shows, shoot-em-up adventures, monster movies, etc.  (My mother loved to tell the story of how, when I was 7 or 8, she had to forbid me from watching The Adams Family on TV with my sister because after just one show, I had recurrent nightmares of being at a tea party in the fictional family’s back yard, served cups brimming with ladybugs instead of liquid; I’d wake screaming).  Clearly, not the best constitution for blood, guts, and gore on the big screen.

So it made sense when The Silence of the Lambs first came out, I had no desire to go see it.  Weeks went by, and soon all my friends were buzzing about Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, what great onscreen chemistry, what a twisted plot, what a genius performance of a diabolical killer, what a great, great, great movie it was, yadda yadda yadda.  “Don’t be such a wimp!” they’d chide me, or “but you’ll really love the suspenseful plot twists and the mystery of it,” or, “Aw, c’mon, Ric, if you come with me I promise I’ll hold your hand through the whole thing–ya big baaaaby!! Hahahahaha!!!”.

I would have stuck to my guns, too, if not for Mr. Ranch Hand.  You see, back when the movie premiered (in 1991), I had just recently re-entered the world of singledom.  I’d sworn off men for the time being and had spent the previous year (or thereabouts) reading books from the library, watching videos from the library, cooking soup (very comforting) and baking (even more comforting) for my room mate and me, or sitting in our living room every evening watching my (pre-recorded) soap opera with my room mate’s two cats (roomie, on the other hand, was usually out on dates in the evenings.).  So when a friend dragged me out to a jazz club one night, and I met Mr. Ranch Hand (from Calgary, Alberta, who had just moved to Toronto) and he asked me out on a date–an honest-to-goodness cowboy–how could I refuse?  And–go figure–he wanted to see a movie.  Which movie?  Yep, you guessed it–Silence of the Lambs.

Let’s just say I didn’t hold Mr. Ranch Hand’s hand during the movie.  And oh, there was no second date.

My memory did, however, become indelibly imprinted with the phrase, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti,”  which will forever more be associated in my mind–and heart–with blood, guts, and gore. (New age math equasion:  Hannibal Lecter + fava beans = blood, guts and gore.) Needless to say, I avoided fava beans thereafter.  In addition, I never again slurped my food. Ever.

As a result, fava beans were put on the back burner (so to speak) as far as “new foods Ricki would like to try,” for the longest time.  It wasn’t until I cooked up the Egyptian Fava Bean breakfast on this blog a couple of years ago (it was my love of all things spicy that finally convinced me) that I came to recognize the appeal of favas. And while I never tire of that particular combination of smooth, creamy beans, caramelized onions, spicy jalapeno and juicy tomato all dusted with cumin, I’ve been wondering what other dishes I might create with the formidable fava.  Time to move on–and to heck with Hannibal Lecter!

I had planned to create bean balls that could be served atop a larger curry-rice dish.  However, by the time I’d finished prepping all the other side dishes for our dinner and The HH  had kidnapped and skinned  (oops, nope, wrong memory–damn you, Hannibal Lecter!) cooked his turkey, I was too pooped to mix up the rice.  Instead, I opted to top the balls with cranberry sauce in lieu of chutney. The outcome was tasty, but I could tell it hadn’t reached its full potential: the insides were a little too soft, the sauce a little too cloying

Last week, I toyed further and developed a chutney of my own, combining grape tomatoes and cranberries.  The result was spectacular.  These bean balls are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, with a hearty flavor that’s not quite sweet, exactly, nor quite spicy–yet with an understated sweetness of squash alongside warming Indian spices like cumin and garam masala. The bright blood-hued scarlet condiment is at once tangy, sweet and slightly sour with its own mélange of spices to best highlight the fruitiness in the tomatoes.

In fact, the HH and I loved these little gems so much that we’ve now eaten them three more times.  But please, just don’t offer me a glass of chianti to go with them.

I’ll be sharing this recipe at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday this week.

Last Year at this Time:

Two Years Ago: Crimson Mousse (gluten free; ACD all stages)

Three Years Ago: Sweet and Simple Sweet Potato Smoothie (not gluten free; not ACD friendly)

Four Years Ago: Happy Trails [components of a good trail mix]

© Ricki Heller

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  1. Of all beans, favas are my least favourite but maybe I just haven’t tried them the right way. I will have to try this out with my remaining favas. 😉

    • Janet, I’d say these don’t especially taste like favas, since there are so many other flavors involved, too. Just a lovely, mild, slightly sweet and spicy bean ball. 🙂

  2. Fava beans are broad beans, right? Maybe that’s why I never got stressed about them after watching the movie, because we Aussies eat broad beans! I went through a phase of honest-to-goodness eating a bowl of microwaved broad beans every night, back in my late teens. Somehow I think this will be more delicious 😉

    • Yes!! I’ve always seen the dried ones referred to more often as favas, the fresh ones as broad beans, but they are all favas. I actually tried the fresh ones last summer and loved them–but just ate them straight with a little oil and garlic, nothing worth blogging about. 🙂 But I can see how you’d eat them that often!

  3. Ricki you are too funny! I’ve always remembered that line too, and have NEVER tried fava beans 🙂 What a creepy movie that was. Okay, but these little bean balls sound delightful and I’m thinking I’m going to need to get past my fava bean fear and give them a try. Yes, no chianti.

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one who develops a food aversion because of a movie! 😉 And yes, too, too creepy. If you can ignore what they’re called, I think you’ll love the favas in these. They are very mild and add a certain creaminess to the insides. . . yum.

  4. Sympathies on the sinus infection! At one time they were the bane of my life – thank goodness you know about better solutions than antibiotics. I never saw that movie but my ‘fear of fava’ comes from having a friend who had a severe allergic reaction. That Cranberry Chutney though, that is a different story – it goes in the ‘must-try’ category.:-)

    • Thanks, Gretchen. Seems to have finally turned a corner–keeping fingers crossed! I hadn’t realized that favas were among allergenic foods (though I suppose any food could be, really). I think you’ll love the chutney–I’ve been eating it on pancakes and even blended into a smoothie! 🙂

  5. Wait–am I reading the recipe WAY too fast, or did you forget to include the fava beans? I see the garfava flour, but no beans?
    They sound great, though–I love favas!


    • Courtney, I’m laughing here!! I think that must have been a Freudian omission given my feelings about favas!! Ha ha. Corrected now. Thanks so much for pointing this out! 😀

  6. Arghh! I love fava beans and my avoidance of cooking (not eating) them had nothing to do with The Silence of the Lambs, because up until now, I had completely forgotten that line. It has to do with my fear of all the work that goes into preparing them. And the difficulty of finding the fresh ones at the market. But I don’t see any actual fava beans in the recipe — just fava flour, so if I can ever get the image of Hannibal Lecter out of my mind, I might be able to try your recipe!

    I hope you’re feeling better soon. I HATE being sick and I feel mountains of sympathy for you. Hope you’re back to normal soon.

    • Thanks, Andrea! As Courtney pointed out as well, I FORGOT to include the favas in the ingredient list!! Seriously, must have been my subconscious mind preventing me. 😉 Anyway, they are added back in now. I used the dried kind, not the fresh, for this recipe. I agree about the monumental amount of work that goes into preparing the fresh ones, but I do have to admit that I loved their flavor and texture once I had shelled and cooked them all. . . even if I *did* end up with 1/10 the amount of food once all the pods had been discarded!! A recipe with fresh favas is my next challenge. . .for now, I’m hapyp with this one. 🙂

  7. i do not like that movie! eeek..
    and i like my beans with a bunch of flavors! i have too many beans at home, but no fava! time to get some and try some!

  8. That movie was one of the most intense movies I’ve ever watched and for the most part I’ve avoided anything similar ever since. (Terrible movie for a date. Terrible. Remember The Poseidon Adventure, first disaster movie? I went on a date to that. Disastrous indeed.) I’ve never forgotten that line at the end, and although I’ve never tried fava beans, it’s not because of the movie. I’ve never been around them I don’t think. Your bean balls do look yummy though! Hope you can kick this illness to the curb with only natural wonders to help you!


    • Shirley, I think you and I must have seen the two worst date movies ever!!! I have a feeling Mr. Ranch Hand believed it would somehow promote having his arm around me, hugging, etc. . . but it did the opposite for me! 😉 I think that canned favas are fairly easy to find–I went with those first, before moving on to the fresh ones. 🙂

  9. Great post – I am the same about scary movies and now am glad I never saw silence of the lambs – but I never had a Mr Ranch Hand to take me along – just as well – I saw fatal attraction and jumped at the same point both times – even when I saw it coming

    Fava beans are I think what we call broad beans and a pain to pod – is that right? always think I should spend more time with them but I don’t – love the sound of these balls and always nice to know I am not the only one who runs out of puff when I overextend myself on a meal – imagine what we could achieve with the energy and time

    • Thanks, Johanna! Yes, I think they’re the same as broad beans, but I should have clarified that I was using the canned variety, which are dried and then cooked–so the color, flavor & texture are quite different from the brilliantly green fresh ones! Glad to know I’m not the only one who reached adulthood still scared of scary movies! 😉

  10. I still am haunted by that movie. I can vividly remember watching it at one of my girlfriend’s house that I was going to be spending the night at afterwards. Her house was creepy to begin with, so after we finished the movie, I was so freaked out I had to go home because i was too scared to sleep at her house. LOL
    And as for these fava bean balls? Wow! What a brilliant idea. I am going to make them for dinner tomorrow night. I have fava beans waiting for a recipe for them to be used in (my kids actually love fava beans) and tomatoes ripening really quickly in my yard right now. How do you manage to always come up with such ingenious ideas??

  11. the spices in the bean balls sound so good. i love falafel so these seem just right. and the sauce sounds like a perfect match.

    i can’t handle scary movies much anymore. i am a wimp. although i do watch some gory HBO shows for kicks.

  12. The cranberry tomato chutney alone is spectacular, but the balls are award-worthy. Great recipe!

  13. Those look really good!

    Nice to virtually “meet” you (found your blog via Rawdorable!)

    All the best!

  14. These look delicious Ricki! I’ve been reading up on your latest posts and I have to say this one is making my tummy rumble 😉

  15. Ooo, yum – these look good! I’ve been thinking about making some meatless meatballs lately and these look divine!

  16. The fava bean balls sound so good but then paired with the cranberry chutney, yum! I always forget or don’t think about making chutneys/sauces to go with things but they really make a meal more delicious.


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