Monday, April 14, 2008

Fool Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans)

Fool Medames (or Fool Mudammas, Ful Medames, Ful Mudammas, Fuul Medammis, etc., often just called Fool, Ful or Fuul) is an Egyptian bean stew: the basic recipe is fool (ful, fuul, i.e., fava) beans, cooked until tender, mashed then mixed with olive oil and seasonings, typically lemon juice and cumin. The mashed beans are usually served garnished with egg accompanied by pita bread. Fool is often eaten for breakfast, and is sold by street vendors: Egyptian fast food.

  • four cups (about two pounds) dry small fava beans (broad beans or pink beans)
  • one-half cup split red lentils, washed, rinsed, and cleaned (optional)
  • one or two ripe tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • one onion, chopped (optional)
  • four cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
  • one teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • one teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ground cayenne pepper or red pepper, to taste
  • one handful fresh cilantro, parsley, or mint leaves, chopped
  • one bunch green onions (white part and some of the green part), chopped
  • four hard-boiled eggs
  • Wash and rinse fava beans and soak them, covered with cold water, for an entire day (to have fool in the evening, soak the beans from early one morning until the same time the next morning, then cook). Drain and rinse before cooking.
  • In a large pot, bring fourteen cups (three and one-half times the amount of beans) water to a boil. Add beans and lentils. Boil for several minutes. Skim any foam off top. Reduce heat and simmer. Add the optional tomato and onion (if desired -- or they can be added after the beans are cooked). Cover (and do not uncover) and simmer over very low heat for eight hours. After eight hours, check for dryness. If beans are dry, add boiling water (not cold water) as necessary. Cook another two to three hours, until beans are very tender.
  • Mash beans with potato masher or ricer. Stir in garlic, tomatoes and onions (as desired), coriander, cumin, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Simmer and stir for a few minutes more.
  • Place serving-sized portions into bowls. Garnish to your liking with cilantro (or parsley, or mint) leaves, green onion, and sliced hard-boiled egg. Serve warm with warmed pita bread. (Can be stored in the 'fridge and re-heated.)

The beans can also be cooked in an ovenproof casserole dish: Place the soaked beans in the dish, add boiling water, cover, and place in medium-hot oven.

Though not traditional, this dish could also be attempted with pinto beans (as used to make refried beans in Mexican cuisine); fool and pita bread is not too different than refried beans and tortillas. More evidence that ancient Egyptians did build those Meso-American pyramids? They Came Before Columbus!

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