Ful medames — sometimes spelled ful medammes or foul mudammas — is a hearty fava bean stew eaten in various ways, usually for breakfast, in many parts of the Middle East. This one is the Egyptian-style that author Anissa Helou calls “breakfast par excellence, enjoyed by poor and rich alike, on the street or at home.”
It’s made with whole dried fava beans in their skins; don’t use split favas for this, as they turn to (delicious) mush better suited to dips and soups. Seek out small Egyptian fava beans, not the large ones, soak them overnight with a little baking soda (to help soften the skins), then cook them on the stovetop for a couple of hours or use an Instant Pot for a much quicker path. Helou’s 2018 book “Feast” also includes instructions for a Syrian-style ful; see VARIATION for that option.
Active time: 10 mins; Total time:3 hours 10 mins, plus overnight soaking; or 1 hour 30 mins if using an Instant Pot
Make Ahead: The favas can be cooked and refrigerated for up to 1 week, then warmed in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop before garnishing and serving.
Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
Where to Buy: Small dried fava beans in their shell can be found at Middle Eastern and some international markets or online.
4 – 6
Tested size: 4-6 servings
1 pound dried whole fava beans with skins, preferably mini, soaked overnight in plenty of water with 1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups water, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
3 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 medium firm-ripe tomato (3 1/2 ounces), cut into small cubes
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges, for serving
Pita bread, for serving
Drain and rinse the favas under cold water. Put in a large pot and add the water, plus more if needed to barely cover. 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 cooking liquid has thickened. Check after 1 hour or so to make sure the beans are not drying out, and if they are, add just enough boiling water to barely cover them. (You don’t want to add too much or you’ll dilute the dish.) When they’re ready (and not before), stir in the salt.
Alternatively, cook the beans in an Instant Pot: Combine them with the water in the pot, seal the lid, and set the device to HIGH pressure for 1 hour. Release the pressure manually, then check to make sure the beans are very tender. (You shouldn’t need to add more water, because the pot’s tight seal allows for no evaporation.) If they aren’t tender, reseal, set to HIGH pressure for 10 minutes, then release the pressure manually and check again. Repeat until the favas are very tender.
To serve, mash the beans coarsely in the pot, leaving some whole, then mix in the garlic, taste, and season with more salt as needed.
Spoon the beans into one large serving bowl. Drizzle all over with olive oil. Pile the diced tomato in the center of the beans, then sprinkle the scallions and the parsley over. Sprinkle the cumin around the edges of the beans; and serve with the lemon wedges and pita bread.
VARIATION: To serve the beans Syrian-style, leave them whole, not mashed. Mix 1/2 cup of tahini with 1 minced garlic clove and the juice of 1 lemon. Gradually whisk in 3/4 cup water until the sauce is the consistency of heavy cream. Pour the sauce into a large serving bowl and top with the hot beans. Dilute 2 tablespoons of Turkish or Aleppo red pepper paste with 3 tablespoons of water and drizzle on top, if desired. Serve with pita, tomato and scallions.
Adapted from “Feast” by Anissa Helou (Harper Collins, 2018).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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