International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Ful Medames

Ful Medames (Egyptian slow-cooked fava beans)

(Egyptian slow-cooked fava beans)

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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. The dish has a variety of spellings: fool, foul, ful, fuul; medames, mudammas, medammis, midammas.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Dried, peeled fava beans -- 2 cups, or 1 pound
  • Red lentils -- 1/2 cup
  • Onion, chopped -- 1/2
  • Garlic, minced -- 3 to 4 cloves
  • Ground cumin -- 1 teaspoon
  • Salt -- to taste
  • Lemons, juice only -- 1 or 2
  • Olive oil or melted butter -- 3 tablespoons

Method

  1. Start in the morning to have your ful medames for breakfast the next day. Soak the fava beans in water to cover for 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse 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, and then reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer for 8 to 10 hours, overnight if necessary. Skim off any scum that forms on the top.
  3. The next morning, remove from beans 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.

Ful Medames Notes and 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 cup of chopped tomatoes to the simmering beans for more flavor.
  • Garnish with chopped scallions.
  • A slow cooker is perfect for cooking larger batches of ful medames.

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