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Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Bean Stew)

This breakfast dish common to North Africa and the Middle East is made with fava beans and warming spices then topped with a citrus-dressed chopped salad. Perfect for scooping up with warm fluffy flatbread.

What is Ful Medames?

This ancient breakfast dish, originating in Egypt and then migrating to other countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Ethiopia, Sudan and Morocco, is traditionally made by mashing fava beans cooked with cumin and then serving with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley.

The recipe below has some some swaps, variations and extra additions to the traditional recipe and is very much loved by my family. My version of this recipe starts by frying onions with garlic and cumin, Pul Biber and oregano. I add chopped tomatoes and then the fava beans before mashing to coarse dip consistency. The final dish is served with a topper – a medley of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, fresh parsley and coriander dressed in olive oil and lime juice.

Ingredients in Ful Medames

  • Fava Beans  – use tinned fava beans to make the dish super-quick to prepare and cook because you won’t need to soak and cook dried fava beans. You can find tinned fava beans in most supermarkets. I use this variety.
  • Water – a little cooking liquid for the fava beans.
  • Cumin – ground cumin to give the Ful a warm and nutty flavour.
  • Pul Biber or Aleppo Pepper – dried dark red pepper flakes with a mild smoky flavour and moderate heat. Alternatively use a little chilli or leave it out completely.
  • Oregano – my addition to the classic recipe for an earthy and peppery profile.
  • Garlic – used to enhance the aromatics in the dish.
  • Onion – one brown onion to cook the fava beans with; and one red onion for the topping.
  • Olive Oil – good quality extra virgin olive oil, used both during the cooking process and for serving the dish.
  • Lime Juice – used during cooking to flavour the fava beans.
  • Lemon Juice – used for the topper dressing.
  • Tomatoes – I cook my fava beans with tomatoes as it gives a further depth to the flavour. Tomatoes are also required for the topper.
  • Cucumber – for the topper.
  • Fresh herbs – I use a combination of fresh parsley and coriander for my Ful Medames topper. Feel free to use only parsley or coriander if you prefer.
  • Salt and Pepper – seasoning for the dish.

How to Serve Ful Medames

Serve Ful Medames with either boiled or fried eggs with a side of fluffy pitta bread or Sesame and Nigella Seed Flatbread (as pictured above) and tahini to drizzle over as well. Alternatively top further with crumbled feta to add another delicious layer to this dish.

Ful Medames is a vegan dish so a perfect addition to your recipes for vegan friends or family; or for the yearly commitment to ‘Veganuary.’ Just serve the Ful as the recipe sets out below with vegan bread.

Leftovers

Once the Ful has cooled down, store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days. It can either be reheated gently in a saucepan or a microwave.


Ful Medames

Egyptian fava bean stew
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Egyptian
Keyword: vegetarian, vegan
Servings: 4 to 6 people
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the Ful Medames

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tins (400g each) fava beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • 150 g tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Pul Biber
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Ful Medames Topping

  • 150 g tomatoes (finely diced)
  • 1 medium red onion (finely diced)
  • 1/4 cucumber (finely diced)
  • 1 small bunch parsley and coriander (finely chopped)
  • 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra to drizzle over the final dish)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Make the Ful Medames:
    Take a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Once it glistens, add onion. Fry until golden.
  • Add garlic and stir until aromatics released. Add cumin, oregano, Pul Biber and stir into the onion mixture. Add chopped tomatoes to pan and cook until they have broken down and thickened. 
  • Add fava beans to tomato mixture with 1 cup water. Season generously, add lime juice and, using a masher or the back of a fork, press down on the beans and mash until they roughly breakdown. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture thickens (it should look like a coarse dip). Make the toppings while the Ful simmers.
  • Make the Toppings:
    Finely dice cherry tomatoes, cucumber and onions. Add fresh finely chopped parsley and coriander. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave to one side until ready to use.
  • Serve the Ful Medames:
    Spoon the Ful into a serving dish and heap the toppings on top. Drizzle with more olive oil and serve with fluffy, warm flatbread.

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