The Cyprus vetch (Lathyrus ochrus), or gambilya as it is called in Turkey is a high protein legume that is used in its dried form. It is native to eastern Turkey. The bitter green leaves of the fresh plant may also be eaten. This split, yellow beans are found inside a brown pod. It could easily be mistaken for a yellow lentil, but it is more closely related to peas, and it has a square-like shape as opposed to round lentils. It is a much less common variety grown for human consumption than other related species in the same genus.
Usually this nutritious food is made into a soup (such as louvana soup), but a more elaborate way of eating it is making a “fava,” which is a delicious meze. Fava is prepared by soaking the gambilya, then frying it with onion, garlic, sugar and salt. It is then cooked in water until soft, and then pureed along with a bit of lemon juice. Gambilya is also eaten for breakfast by local villagers.
It is very difficult harvest the beans out from the plant since it has needles, and therefore gambilya is very precious among the natives to Bodrum area. It is four times more expensive than the normal fava beans with which the fava dish described above could also be made. It is sold localy in the Milas and Bodrum area of Turkey, but it is uncertain exactly in what quantities. Although in the past people had the patience to harvest and peel these beans, younger generations are not interested in this work, and since the price is very high compared to other legumes, every year fewer and fewer people cultivate and purchase these beans.Back to the archive >