What is timman bagilla?
Timman bagilla is a rice dish with fresh fava beans typical of Iraqi cuisine. It is served as a single dish or can be garnished with meat, usually chicken or lamb.
A very refreshing yoghurt sauce is also added. This dish is generally served at banquets or buffets, it is very popular because it is considered rather light and balanced.
The name timman bagilla simply means “bean rice” in Arabic. Iraqis eat it mainly in spring and summer, when fresh beans are abundant on the market shelves.
What is the origin of timman bagilla?
Timman bagilla, like many rice dishes, is probably from Persia. Iraqi cuisine is located halfway between Persian and Syrian-Lebanese cuisine.
A cousin of this dish is found in Iran under the name of baghali polow (Persian bean rice). As in Iraq, Iranians flavor their rice with fresh dill and fava beans and accompany it with roasted meat. Dill is very popular throughout the region’s cuisine and is consumed in large quantities. It is known for its digestive properties, and it is also an excellent natural sedative.
How to prepare timman bagilla
The preparation of rice is a very important step in the recipe, it must be washed several times and soaked in cold water. This step removes the starch from the rice to prevent the grains from sticking together when cooking.
Separately, an onion is sweated in hot oil, then the fava beans that need to be peeled (the skin of the fava beans is bitter and unpleasant) are added. This base is perfumed with turmeric and fresh dill, then rice and soaking water are added.
The rice is cooked once all the water is absorbed, however it should be left to rest after this step. Timman bagilla is usually served with chicken, which must be browned, but leftover roasted chicken can also be used.
The yoghurt sauce is very easy to prepare by adding garlic and chopped fresh mint.
This allows the rice to be pyramid-shaped by adding the meat cubes all around. The sauce is presented in a separate bowl.
Timman bagilla may be embellished with raisins and pomegranate arils, which bring a small sweet note but also a particularly pleasant acidity.
Rice production in Iraq and amber rice
Iraq is a major rice producer in the region. The most famous variety is nicknamed “amber rice”, a true national treasure. In recent years, its production has been affected by repeated droughts and the crisis that the country has been going through since.
Iraq usually produces about 100,000 tons of rice per year: a majority of Basmati rice and about a third of amber rice.
The best varieties of amber rice are known as Royal rice. They are grown in the Diwaniya and Najaf regions. This rice is hardly exported due to the small quantity produced. Today, the loss of income for rice farmers is catastrophic.
What are the variants of timman bagilla?
Iraqis eat a lot of rice dishes, which are often topped with dried fruits, making them very nutritious. They can be colored with spices and often use cooking techniques from India and Persia such as tah-dig or tadig, a technique that makes some of the rice very crispy.
Lebanese roz bil foul is also a dish of rice and fresh fava beans, often served without meat, however.
- 1 lb fresh or frozen fava beans peeled
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1½ cup water
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 large bunch dill chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- ½ pomegranate
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ lb chicken filets diced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 8 leaves fresh mint
- Rinse the rice several times with cold water by rubbing it between the hands and let it soak for 30 minutes in 2½ times its volume of cold water.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven and lightly brown the onion.
- Add the beans, turmeric and dill. Mix well.
- After 2 minutes, add the rice with the water in which it soaked.
- Season with salt and pepper and add the raisins. Mix well.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, allow the water to evaporate for a few minutes. Then when almost all the water has evaporated, reduce the heat to the minimum, mix gently with the fork, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes by mixing the rice once or twice.
- Coat the chicken with the cornstarch seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken for 3 minutes over medium to high heat, stirring regularly, then lower the heat and cook the chicken over low to medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Chop mint and garlic together and mix with yogurt.
- Add salt, pepper and mix well.
- Serve the hot rice mounded in a large platter.
- Place the meat all around and sprinkle with some pomegranate seeds.
- Serve with yogurt sauce on the side.