Koukofava, fava beans purée

To no confuse with fava from Santorini ?


There is a lovely little dish to enjoy as a dip or a side: fava beans purée, koukofava in Greek.

Greek fava, the yellow split pea (lathouri) is so often confused with fava beans, koukia in Greek. This humble bean deserves a bit of space of its own and a long overdue disambiguation as it is truly delicious and as with fava it is a no brainer to make.


Koukofava, is a purée made with dried fava beans (lat. Vicia faba) and a bit of onion, a Cretan cuisine favourite. It is a very common pulse that has fallen a bit out of favour in recent years. It used to be much more common in older days, modern cooking cast it aside. In Greece, it is the older generation favouring it and for many the dish recalls darker, less prosperous years (think WWII). Dried fava beans means they keep well over winter when fresh crops are hard to come by and in years of war it has been a saviour to many. It is not as innocent as it seems though.  

 Fava beans are to blame for a very old disease, even Pythagoras suspected the culprit, and later on fava beans gave it its name: favism. It’s a hemolytic disease dangerous to people with G6PDD deficiency. Their consumption can trigger hemolytic anemia, more common in men than women around the Mediterranean basin. So if you have it, I’m sure you already know it, the deficiency shows on bloodtests since you are a youngster. Anyone else can consume care free.

There are a couple of more recipes that match well: fava beans with artichokes, agginares me koukia , they get into the pot with greens for fricassee, or simply done with oregano and lemon. What is the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of fava beans is fairy tales:

Κόκκινη κλωστή δεμένη, στην ανέμη τυλιγμένη

Δώσε κλώτσο να γυρίσει, παραμύθι να αρχινίσει

Μύθι, μύθι, παραμύθι το κουκί και το ρεβύθι

For a child friendly version and Greek pulse disambiguation, check out the video Carmen Rougieri made during lockdown.

For a more grown up tune: check below

And let me not forget the recipe:

Koukofava, fava beans puree

  • 250 gr dried fava beans
  • 1 medium yellow onions
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsn olive oil
  • Oregano (I used dried oregano flowers)
  1. Rinse in cold water and transfer to the pot along with the quartered onion. Fill in with water to fully cover and bring to the boil.
  2. Once boiling lower the heat to medium-low and check as you might need to add some more warm water. So keep the kettle at the ready.
  3. They should be ready within 25 minutes, you should be able to mash with a fork and all liquids will have evaporated.
  4. Serve with raw onion, fresh olive oil and a bit of dried oregano. I used a bit of dried oregano flowers.

No need to soak them!

So do you cook with fava beans? I’m really curious to find out, let me know in the comments below.

From London with love,


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