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.
See just how easy it is to make in this video:
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.
Welcome to #EatLikeAnEgyptian!
Today we are having fun exploring our favorite Egyptian cuisine recipes to commemorate the holiday of Eid-el-Fitr, which begins at sundown. See the other recipes:
- Aish Baladi 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
well,this is a nice way to explore Egyptian culture but I don't think it does it justice.
I am an egyptian and what we do is we typically buy dried fava beans and cook them on a slow cooker over night so that when we wake up we would have hot,fresh and plain ful then everyone would add what he likes from spices to oils etc
Thanks for your comment. Waking up to slow cooked fava beans sounds great, and I do mention in the post that this is the typical way to cook them. However I chose the quicker route to help make the process easier and a bit more accessible for people who might not be familiar.
Judee@gluten free A-Z Blog
We eat Ful quite frequently for dinner. They sell the cans in Middle Eastern Ethnic stores.
Our recipe is similar except with season it with a little cumin , eat it with whole scallions , and chopped hard boiled eggs. My husband's family lived in Egypt and that was how they ate it.. Being a vegetarian and gluten free, I love it..
Thanks Judee, yes I have seen it served with hard boiled eggs as well. I can imagine it's a great option being vegan & gluten-free (as it is even when you are not!).
It's been too long since I have made this and you have tempted me!
You really should!
Camilla @ Culinary Adventures
I have never seen canned fava beans...but it's one of the only things to which I am allergic. Which beans do you think would be a good substitute?
They're not that common, it's true. Shame you are allergic, though! Favas do have quite a distinct texture and taste, they are quite 'meaty'. I believe lima beans are the closest substitute (even though the color will be different, but flavor-wise it's about closest).
Jas @All that's Jas
Such a simple but tasty dish. We eat is a salad in my home country 🙂
I can understand why - simple is often some of the best!
What a great and authentic choice for this theme! Gorgeous photos too!
Thanks so much Karen!
I would love to visit Egypt as well! At least we can get a small taste. This looks delicious!
Thanks Carlee, food is not bad as a fill in until as and when 🙂
I don't think I have ever seen canned fava beans. I will have to keep an eye open. This is like an Egyptian version of hummus.
They are not that common, it's true - my local supermarket didn't have them but the Wholefoods did. It is a little like hummus but the flavor is definitely distinct (and while you can make smoother, it's not as common). Worth trying, though, for sure!