a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Broad beans, for the love of baghali polo


The vegetable patch in the garden has been planted to provide us with some of the vegetables that we use a lot, or are more convenient to have close at hand, or are difficult for us to buy locally .  I plant broad beans because I can never  find broad beans which are sufficiently large in the shops in France.

The broad beans are planted in the autumn here and overwinter happily as they can take the short periods of cold that we get in the winter.  They then take off rapidly in the spring and you can gather them before they get attacked by black fly.  2011 was so mild that I decided to plant a second crop in the early spring but despite constant treatment with soapy water the second sowing was ravaged by black fly and I swore, never again.

This winter brought unprecedented snow and sub zero temperatures in February and the broad beans were frozen and as limp as lettuce kept in a freezer.  I was definitely not going to replant in the spring so once the weather improved I clipped off all the slimy leaves and left them alone.  Some actually regrew, perhaps 40%.

The plants were healthy but it was not a heavy crop.

My desire for broad beans is to make a favourite meal.  This requires not only shelling the fluffy outer coat of the beans but slicing each bean in two to remove the bean coating leaving the broad beans shiny and bright.

This is the total of my garden produce of broad beans for this year.  Not a lot but a whole lot better than none.

Also I grow dill, primarily for my boghali polo which is a traditional Persian dish.  The prepared broad beans are layered with the chopped dill and steamed together with rice, the mixture of flavours is superb.

Just before serving I decorate the rice with saffron, this time the saffron was also home grown (see my blog “I’m just mad about saffron”).

Baghali polo goes very well with plain yoghurt and can be served with either roast lamb or roast chicken although on its own it makes a good vegetarian dish served with yoghurt.

So this is why I grow broad beans.  They take a lot of time to prepare like this but they freeze well.  There are short cuts that can be taken.

When I lived in the U.K. I used to buy my broad beans and invite my sister over to watch Wimbledon on the television (she does not have her own).  She would then sit and do the beans while she watched.  She fell for it every year.  Some people sip Pimms and eat strawberries and cream when they watch the tennis, others shell broad beans.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

5 thoughts on “Broad beans, for the love of baghali polo

  1. I also love broad beans but perhaps with our severe winter they wouldn’t be such a good idea to sow early, spring may be better. Hubby doesn’t like them but I remember them from my childhood so maybe that’s why I have a fondness for them. I like the way that you persuaded your sister to shell the beans without her realising 😉


  2. I grow broad beans for the opposite reason. My husband like to eat them ‘in the pod’ so they must be young and tender. Your dish sounds lovely; last evening I cooked some broad beans in a little olive oil with some softened white onion (also from the garden) and then added a little water (it could be white wine), thyme and added strips of capocollo at the last minute. Christina


    • In this area that is exactly how they like to eat them, when they are very tiny but raw and they sprinkle them with salt. I had never heard anyone eating raw broad beans and I found it strange. I said to them I liked eating green peas raw from the pod and they found that very strange!


  3. I have always loved beans. I haven’t had much success growing them – my weather is really hot and dry. Enjoy your success.


    • We grow borlotti beans too which are very good on their own or in soup or ratatouille. They are very easy to grow and I think they may suit hotter climates. They haven’t even flowered yet but I’ll take pictures of them when they are ready.


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