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Koukia Xera (Fava)

Fava beans, in Greek Φούλια (foulia) is a legume similar to broad beans (ficia fava) in ancient Greek named κύαμος (κyamos) and in modern Greek κουκιά (koukia) and was one of the species of beans than existed in the ancient world.   Fava beans are mentioned by Homer (8th to 9th century B.C.).   Greeks associated the little back spot on the hilum with death and although the beans were sometimes offered in Sacrifices to Apollo, it was forbidden for the priests to eat it or even mention its name.

In ancient Greece beans were also used in voting, a white bean being used to cast a yes vote and black bean for no. Since after every voting the beans were counted, even today we use the phrase “κουκιά μετρημένα” (the beans have been counted), referring to the results of the votes.

However, fava in Greece is also the name of a dish, which is usually made with yellow split peas. What most people do not know is that fava, which takes its name from the latin favus and means beans, was originally made with fava beans. Fava was difficult to cook, as it had to be shelled, soaked for hours in water and took a long time to cook. However, later on they started using  peas, which were much easier to cook and until today continue making fava with this pea which in Greek is called “fava” (lathyrus clymenum).

In Cyprus, Koukia xera, dried broad beans (fava beans) are boiled until soft almost like a  puree.  They are served as a soup with olive oil and lemon juice.

Leftovers can be further pureed, making a creamy dip served as an appetizer, similar to hoummous.

The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

The next day I had some leftovers, so I microwaved a couple of potatoes, added canned tuna, capers, gherkins and a few other ingredients and I made a delicious salad.  All the ingredients paired perfectly with fava making a new dish which I will definitely make again.

Fava Dip and Salad – Recipe, by Ivy

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time:30 minutes




Fava beans



Onion, finely chopped



Olive Oil


Serve with:

Olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, onion, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Extra ingredients:









Red onion






Olive oil









Cucumber, with skin on

Lemon Juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Soak the fava beans from the previous night. Drain, add fresh water and bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Drain again.


Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion. Add the fava beans and add water to cover, bring to a boil, add salt and lower heat. Simmer until soft.


Puree the beans and serve adding extra olive oil, lemon juice, salt, freshly ground black pepper, parsley and onion.  Serve at room temperature.


To make the salad, microwave or boil potatoes with skin.Peel the potatoes and while still hot, cut into smaller pieces and add the olive oil.  Add any of the listed ingredients.

I am sending this recipe to Harini of Tongue Ticklers, who is hosting MLLA – 13, created by Susan, of The Well Seasoned Cook.

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19 Responses

  1. Fava sounds delicious, but let me tell you, I love the looks of that salad! YUM!

  2. The dip reminds me of flavorful hummus,must try next time with Fava.Salad with potatoes sounds hearty 😛

  3. Oh, that’s fabulous! Fava beans are so delicious! A wonderful recipe…



  4. I don’t cook much with beans, but this looks really healthy n delicious. I would love to have what u created with the leftovers.

  5. I’ve recently had a new found love for beans, for a couple of reasons. One, they are really, really, cheap and filling. And second, they have awesome fiber and have been around for ages… I mean thousands of years of eating is hard to forget 🙂

  6. I love tuna salads as a nice quick lunch…How wonderful to add the fava mixture Ivy…an idea I will def use!

  7. Your timing with this recipe is perfect, Ivy. We have had lots and lots of fave beans in our farm share recently! Both recipes look lovely.

  8. bergamot

    you’ve got a nice site… love ur recipes

  9. I love most beans, but fava are among my FAVA-rite. Yup. I went there. This looks like a simple but delightful dish, Ivy!

  10. Liz

    The history you write with your recipes is fascinating! Here is little fact from where I come from. In the North-East of England Fava (split peas) is called pease pudding (we have all sorts of puddings which are not sweet in the UK) and is often spread on a stottie cake (A flat soft bread roll) with cooked ham (often cooked with the peas in the same pan).

    The ham and pease pudding on the soft bread is a delicious combination and whenever I eat fava it reminds me of my childhood!


    Yum yum!

  11. Your fava dip looks lovely, Ivy! It would make a perfect light, summer meal. Well done! My grandmother used to make fava beans simmered in tomato sauce with potatoes. I always loved them!

  12. This is so interesting, Ivy. I love fresh fava beans, while I have never cooked dried ones. Your dip looks very appetizing.

  13. That is so neat that they were used for counting votes! These both sound so delicious. I love hummus – this looks like a nice alternative.

  14. thanks to share with us some of the story about beans! Your recipe looks great 🙂

  15. When you buy fava beans are they still in their shell, because when I bought and prepared some last week they were and it took over an hour to boil them. I can understand without the shells it would be quick.

    I do like the idea of keeping them slightly chunky in the dip, although when I made mine it was much smoother and not as exciting.

    Next time I will try it your way.

    Thanks : )

  16. Oh wow…..that’s an yum recipe…..

  17. Ivy

    Trish, no they are not in the shell. They are just as you can see them in the picture.

  18. Fava beans dip look delicious, innovative dear 🙂

  19. Almost like a fava hummus, except more flavors & the potatoes.. sounds awesome.. we are out of fresh fava beans here now.. I never bought the dried ones.