Ful medames is a classic Egyptian dish that you will also see on the tables in other countries in the region. It's an incredibly simple dish of warm, seasoned fava beans, but also so comforting. And if you start with canned beans, it only takes a couple of minutes to make.
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Egypt is one place that seems to be eternally on my 'to visit' list. I remember when I was quite young visiting Cyprus with my parents, we had the option of going by boat to either Israel or Egypt for a couple days tour.
My parents opted for Israel, which was a whirlwind tour but I still remember bits despite how young I was. We are actually heading to Israel this summer, but Egypt, unfortunately, still hasn't got on our agenda. However I can explore through food!
Variations on a simple dish
Despite how simple it is, there are a number of ways to prepare and serve ful medames (there are various spellings in the translation, or it's simply called ful). Some leave the beans whole, others mash them completely. Some hardly season them, others use a lot. I have gone somewhere in the middle on both.
Especially since I have cheated a little with canned beans rather than starting with dry, I think it needs a little help from seasoning. Also 'medames' in the name means 'in the fire' as that's where they would traditionally be cooked which I imagine gave a great flavor, a bit harder to recreate. But some good oil, lemon, garlic and cumin are pretty great instead.
You would typically enjoy ful for breakfast with some bread and probably some pickled vegetables. Some people serve it topped with tomato or hard-boiled egg. However since it's slightly dip-like, it is also good alongside eg hummus, baba ghanoush, labneh and other mezze dishes as an appetizer or light lunch. There are lots of options, which is probably part of why it's so popular across the region (as you can learn more about, along with the long history, here).
How to make ful medames (the shortcut way)
Starting with canned beans, all you do is drain and rinse them, boil a few minutes then drain and mix with lemon, olive oil, cumin and garlic. Mash slightly as you mix then serve. I think it's best served slightly warm but it works well cold as well.
Whether you eat this in the traditional style as part of breakfast or snack on it later in the day, ful medames is such an easy dish to make. Lots of beany goodness with a tasty seasoning - grab some bread and scoop it up.
Try these other dishes from the region:
- Baba ghanoush (eggplant spread/dip)
- Labneh (yogurt/cheese spread)
- Pomegranate tabbouleh
- Plus get more North African recipes and Middle Eastern recipes in the archives.
Ful medames (Egyptian fava beans)
- 15 oz fava beans 1 can
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 clove garlic (1 large or 2 small), crushed
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon olive oil virgin/extra virgin
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash pepper
- Drain and rinse the fava beans and put in a pot of boiling water, covering the beans by a good ½in/1cm or more. Bring to a simmer and simmer for approx 5-8min until gently soft.
- Drain the beans then put in a bowl with the cumin, crushed garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Mix all together, mashing some of the beans as you go so it forms a kind of spread/dip.
- Serve topped with a little more oil, some parsley, red onion or add some tomato or hard boiled egg, as you prefer. Use as a dip or spread on bread.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Try these other Egyptian recipes:
- Hawawshi (meat filled pitas)
- Aish Baladi (a bread similar to pitas) from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Baklava from All That’s Jas
- Egyptian Feta Spread from Cooking with Carlee
- Egyptian Mint Lemonade from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Lahma Bil Basal from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Macaroni Bechamel from Palatable Pastime