Ful Medames – sometimes spelled Ful Medammes or Foul Mudammas – is a hearty fava bean stew that is eaten in a variety of ways in many parts of the Middle East, usually for breakfast. This is the Egyptian style that author Anissa Helou calls “breakfast par excellence enjoyed by the rich and poor alike, on the street or at home”.
It is made with whole dried fava beans in their shell; Do not use split favas for this, as they will turn into (delicious) porridge that is better for dips and soups. Look for small Egyptian fava beans, not the big ones, soak them in some baking soda overnight (to soften the skin) then cook them on the stove for a couple of hours or use an Instant Pot for a much quicker one Path. Helou’s 2018 book “Feast” also includes instructions for a Syrian ful; see VARIATION for this option.
Active time: 10 minutes; Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes plus overnight soak; or 1 hour 30 minutes if you are using an Instant Pot
Go on: The favas can be cooked and refrigerated for up to 1 week, then reheated in the microwave or over low heat on the stove before garnishing and serving.
Storage information: Chill for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
Where to buy: Small dried fava beans in their shells can be found in the Middle East and some international markets or online.
Servings: 2 – 3 4 – 6 8 – 12 12 – 18
4 – 6
Tested size: 4-6 servings
1 pound of dried whole fava beans with shell, preferably mini, soaked overnight in plenty of water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda
4 cups of water, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
3 cloves of garlic, grated or pressed
Extra virgin olive oil, to be drizzled on
1 medium firm tomato (3 1/2 ounces), cut into small cubes
3 spring onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges, for serving
Flatbread for serving
Drain the favas and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large saucepan and add the water, adding more if necessary until just covered. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until the beans are very tender and the liquid has thickened. After about 1 hour, check that the beans are not drying out and, if so, add just enough boiling water to barely cover them. (Don’t add too much, or you’ll be diluting the dish.) When they’re done (and not before), stir in the salt.
Alternatively, cook the beans in an Instant Pot: combine them with the water in the pot, put the lid on and turn on the HIGH for 1 hour. Manually release the pressure, then check to see if the beans are very tender. (You shouldn’t have to add more water as the pot’s tight seal doesn’t allow evaporation.) If they’re not tender, reseal them, turn HIGH for 10 minutes, then manually release the pressure and check again . Repeat until the favas are very tender.
To serve, coarsely mash the beans in the pot, leave a little whole, then mix in the garlic, season to taste and, if necessary, season with more salt.
Place the beans in a large serving bowl. Drizzle everything with olive oil. Stack the diced tomato in the middle of the beans, then sprinkle with the spring onions and parsley. Sprinkle the cumin on the edges of the beans; and serve with the lemon wedges and flatbread.
VARIANT: To serve the beans the Syrian way, leave them whole, not pureed. Mix 1/2 cup of tahini with 1 chopped clove of garlic and the juice of 1 lemon. Gradually stir in 3/4 cup water until the sauce has the consistency of cream. Put the sauce in a large serving bowl and top with the hot beans. Dilute 2 tablespoons of Turkish or Aleppo paprika paste with 3 tablespoons of water and drizzle over it as desired. Serve with pita, tomatoes and spring onions.
Adapted from “Fixed” by Anissa Helou (Harper Collins, 2018).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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