Moroccan Dried Fava Bean Dip or Soup – Bessara (Bissara)

Moroccan
Moroccan Dried Fava Bean Dip or Soup – Bessara (Bissara)

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Moroccan Bessara (or bissara) is a delicious and satisfying broad bean puree sauce or soup, popular street food and humble family dish.

Although it is enjoyed throughout the country, it is especially popular in northern Morocco, where it can be served as a stand-alone dish or as a side dish to fish.

How to prepare Bessara

Bessara is prepared by soaking dried and peeled split broad beans overnight, boiling the soaked beans with garlic, olive oil, paprika and cumin, then blending the mixture to the desired consistency.

Broken dried broad beansBroken dried broad beans

To prepare bessara, dried and peeled broad beans are used. Stray pieces of brown skin can be easily removed after soaking. Photo: Christine Benlafquih | Flavor of Morocco

Traditionally soaked split beans are cooked for several hours until they destroy themselves. They are then passed through a sieve or grinder.

However, in modern kitchens we are more likely to use a blender or immersion blender, so the beans only need to be cooked about an hour before they are ready to blend. It’s much easier and quicker and also gives a smoother texture to the broad bean puree.

Moroccan bessara sauceMoroccan bessara sauce

Moroccan Bessara is served as a sauce. Photo: Picturepartners | Bigstock.com

If prepared as a thicker puree, bessara is likely to be served as a dip from a communal dish, usually with crusty Moroccan bread on the side.

If more liquid, the bessara is poured into individual bowls like soup. This is how it is enjoyed as street food, and it is also how I serve it at home.

A bowl of Moroccan bessara, a soup made from split dried broad beans.A bowl of Moroccan bessara, a soup made from split dried broad beans.

Bessara as Moroccan street food in Chefchaouen seasoned with olive oil and cumin. Photo: Christine Benlafquih | Flavor of Morocco

The consistency of the puree can also be somewhere in between: thin enough to eat with a spoon, but thick enough to scoop up with bread.

Another version, Bessara split peas, is made similarly, except that the split peas do not require overnight soaking. For this variation, I like to add onions and use stock or stock when cooking the beans.

Condiments for Bessara

Both the bessara fava and the split pea variant are traditionally a bit bland out of the pot, relying on generous toppings of extra virgin olive oil, cumin, cayenne pepper (or harissa) for a punch of flavor.

Be sure to offer them as toppings because they quickly transform Moroccan dried bean puree into memorable and satisfying comfort food.

Since I like most bean dishes on the spicy side, my recipe below uses a little more seasoning than you might find in a typical street food version. Slot the spices up or down to suit your preference, keeping in mind that the seasonings will add a lot of flavor to the table.

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Two bowls of Moroccan bessara, dried broad bean soup.Two bowls of Moroccan bessara, dried broad bean soup.

Moroccan Bessara recipe – Dried broad bean sauce or soup

Christine Benlafquih | Flavor of Morocco

Bessara (or bissara) is a Moroccan bean puree made from dried broad beans, garlic, olive oil and Moroccan spices. It is popular as both a street food and a family meal, especially in northern Morocco.While traditionally a bit bland, garnishing bessara with cumin, cayenne pepper or harissa and a generous drizzle of good olive oil quickly transforms the humble dish into tasty comfort food. Everything can be offered separately as a condiment.Serve the puree on the side thick as a dip or diluted as a soup for breakfast, dinner, or anytime in between.Allow time for the beans to soak overnight.

Preparation time 15 minutes

Time to cook 1 Now 15 minutes

Soaking time 8 hours

Total time 9 hours 30 minutes

Course Main dish, side dish

Kitchen Moroccan

Product 6 portions

Calories 309 kcal

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For the Bessara sauce or soup

Prepare the Bessara

  • Drain the soaked beans and remove the peel, if present.

  • Place the beans in a pot and add the water, olive oil, garlic and spices.

  • Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about an hour.

  • Drain the beans in a colander placed over a bowl. Store cooking liquids.

  • Blend the beans until smooth with an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, using as much reserved stock as needed to reach the desired consistency.

  • Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add salt, keeping in mind that the seasonings will add flavor to the table.

  • When ready to serve, gently reheat the puree over medium-low heat. Serve bessara as a dip or soup with olive oil, cumin, salt, and cayenne or harissa as seasonings.

  • Don’t skimp on condiments at the table: they are important for the delicious flavor of bessara! Choose a good quality olive oil and consider using freshly ground caraway seeds for a more robust flavor.
  • Be careful not to burn the bessara while heating. This is best done over medium-low heat, stirring often.
  • It’s not a traditional recipe, but you can replace some of the cooking water with stock or stock.

Calories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 35GProtein: 15GFat: 13GSaturated fats: 2GSodium: 604mgPotassium: 641mgFiber: 15GSugar: 3GVitamin A: 367UIC vitamin: 3mgSoccer: 78mgIron: 4mg

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate obtained from online calculators. Optional ingredients may not be included in nutritional information.


Christine Benlafquih is the founding editor of Taste of Maroc and owner of Taste of Casablanca, a food tour and culinary activities business in Casablanca. A long-time resident of Morocco, she has written extensively about Moroccan cuisine and culture. She was a Moroccan cuisine expert for The Spruce Eats (formerly About.com) from 2008 to 2016.


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