Ful Medames

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(Egyptian slow-cooked fava beans)

Ful medames is an ancient Egyptian dish with origins that reach back to the time of the pharaohs. This simple dish of slow-simmered fava beans seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and spices is the daily breakfast meal for millions of Egyptians.

To do ful medames right takes some time, most of it spent soaking and simmering. Start this recipe in the morning to have it ready for breakfast the next day. Especially popular during Ramadan.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Dried, peeled fava beans -- 1 pound
  • Red lentils -- 1/2 cup
  • Garlic -- 3 to 4 cloves
  • Cumin -- 1 teaspoon
  • Salt -- to taste
  • Olive oil or melted butter -- 3 tablespoons

Method

  1. Soak the fava beans in water to cover for 8 to 10 hours. Start early the morning before to have your ful medames for breakfast the next day.
  2. After they have soaked, drain the beans. Place the favas, red lentils, onion, garlic and cumin in a large saucepan and add enough fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 hours, overnight if necessary, skimming the scum off the top occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and mash lightly with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Stir in the lemon juice and salt to taste.
  4. Place the beans in a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter. Serve with fried or hard-boiled eggs and lots of pita bread.

Variations

  • Ful medames is always made with dried favas, not fresh. A small fava called ful hammam is used by Egyptians. The larger ful rumi is the kind you find more often in American markets, and it can be used instead.
  • The red lentils are added for color. They can be eliminated if you like.
  • Add 1/2 chopped onion and/or 1 cup of chopped tomatoes to the simmering beans for more flavor.
  • Stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of lemon juice before mashing the beans.
  • Garnish with chopped scallions.

Notes

  • Goes by a variety of spellings: fool, foul, ful, fuul; medames, mudammas, medammis, midammas.
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