Ful mudammas (pronounced f-ool, rhyming with pool or tool, but why would I spell it like that, or foul? Don’t want to give the wrong impression here 😉 ) is a vegetarian dish that is a staple food item in Egypt. It is the national dish of Egypt. You cannot go to Egypt without trying ful at least several times. It is eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but most often as breakfast. It consists of cooked fava beans, olive oil , lemon juice, garlic, spices, and a variety of fresh chopped ingredients such as tomato, green onions, and parsley. My recipe consists of a fusion of Egyptian, Palestinian, and Syrian influences, and it is delicious. In my typical recipe, I add tahini sauce and chickpeas in addition to the typical Egyptian flavorings. If I do not add tahini, I go the Egyptian route, taught to me by my mother, and simmer it in tomato sauce, extra garlic, and extra onion. This method is great for dinner, and is a MUST TRY if you have not tried it yet. These preparations are both incredibly delicious and nutritious! Everyone who has had this recipe loves it and comes back for seconds, and the biggest problem we ever have is not having enough. Ful Mudammas is the Arabic phrase to describe how the dish is cooked. Mudammas means figuratively that the beans are cooked thoroughly over a long period in the pot, taken from its literal definition of “being buried in the pot”. So this is a dish you want to spend the day simmering away in a pot, if making from scratch. And that is exactly what we do here in this recipe. If you are using a can full of preservatives, sodium, and beans not nearly as fresh as the beans I pick up from my local farm, it is usually already mudammas and you just need to reheat it and add your garnishings. That is no fun if you ask me. Unlike most recipes for ful you will find, this does not originate from a can. In fact, most people are a little intimidated as to how to get the dried hard little beans to that infamous “mudammas” phase quoted so perfectly on the can. If you set aside one nice afternoon to do this, you can prepare enough ful and freeze it for later to last you a couple of months! You also get to control exactly what spices, flavors, and herbs are going in, and it’s preservative free 🙂 Two cheers for clean eating!
You can find the dried brown fava beans at any Arabic market, and most international markets. Make sure it is the small, brown bean, with a black mark on top. Do not get peeled, green, or the large fava beans because those are used differently. I get mine from the bulk bins at Whole Foods; they are organic and from a local farm. I cook about a pound at a time, which makes about 4-5 family sized (serving 4) portions or 10 single portions. So I estimate at least the equivalent of about 10 cans of ful. You want to wash and sort the beans. Because I love adding chick peas to my ful, I usually pressure cook a cup of chickpeas first, before the fava, for about 60 minutes. I set these aside while the ful is cooking. The kids LOVE eating the cooked chickpeas, plain with nothing added! What a perfectly healthy and fun snack for the kids! Simply cook the fava beans in a pressure cooker with water, onions, and garlic (no salt, it inhibits the cooking) for 60-90 minutes. There is no need to soak the beans overnight when you use a pressure cooker. Once the beans have cooked soft, I uncover the pressure top and continue to simmer it for another hour or so, this time with the spices, more garlic, and salt. We are getting those beans mudammas, or buried in flavor!
Once the beans are nicely tender and deliciously infused with the garlic, onion, cumin, and lemon, you can prepare it for being served. First, I take the extra batches and portion them into glass storage containers to freeze for later. When I am ready to serve it, I give it a light mashing (some people completely puree it), add olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, a drizzle of tahini, some cooked chick peas, chopped tomatoes, parsley, and onions. The dish is served warm with pita bread. Ful mudammas is eaten across the Middle East and Africa in various methods: In Aleppo, it is often covered in tahini sauce, and sometimes a red pepper paste, in Palestine on a bed of hummus, others toss it in plain yogurt, or top it with sliced hard boiled eggs, feta cheese, olives, pastrami, fried or caramelized onions, pickled turnips and vegetables, arugula, and all sorts of toppings. It’s kind of like the eggs benedict of the Arab world. Ful benedict, if you will.
Fava beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, and this healthy recipe is quite filling and has minimal fat. It is an excellent and favorite meal for suhoor, which is a meal Muslims eat in early dawn before the daytime fast begins. Once you taste a batch of freshly stewed homemade ful, you will never go back to cans! Once you go scratch, you’ll never go back 😉
- 1 lb of dried brown fava beans
- 10 cups of water
- 1 yellow onion, cut in half
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- (optional) 1/4 cup cooked chickpeas, reserve some for garnish
- (optional) 1/4 cup tahini paste OR 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 c fresh squeezed lemon juice (no lemon juice if cooking in tomato sauce)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 green onion or scallion, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, reserve some for garnish
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and sort the fava beans.
- Place beans into a pressure cooker, add the onion and garlic, and cover with 10-12 cups of water. Cook on high pressure for at least 60 minutes. Do not add salt, as it inhibits cooking.
- Once the beans are cooked soft, you can remove the lid and add the spices and additional diced garlic and onions, lemon juice, and olive oil. Simmer for another 30-60 minutes, until the beans are very tender and flavorful.
- Portion the cooked beans into storage containers or ziplocs and freeze; be sure to store it with some of the cooking liquid. If you will add cooked chickpeas, you can place them in the container and freeze them with the fava beans. When you are ready to serve the beans you simply can pour them into a pot to reheat it and add the final toppings.
- Simmer 1 cup of stewed fava beans with the tahini OR tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup of cooked chick peas, over medium-high heat. If there is not enough liquid with the beans, add 1/4 c water to prevent drying out the beans. Remove from heat after 5 minutes, or after most liquid is absorbed.
- If you like you beans softened, as Egyptians do, this is the time to mash them gently with a fork or masher. Some people even puree it smooth, but we definitely like some texture and chunky beans. After mashing the beans, add the lemon juice (omit if you are cooking in tomato sauce), chopped tomato, onions, garlic, and parsley. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Toss lightly.
- Garnish with the remaining chickpeas and parsley on top, and drizzle remaining olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread.
- If you will serve the fava beans simmered in tomato sauce, you will omit the lemon juice because the tomato sauce provides enough acidity. You can add a dash of lemon or vinegar if you prefer.
- The flavor with the tahini or the tomato sauce make for two very different dishes. Try them both!