What Is Ful Medames?
Ful medames (sometimes spelled foul mudammas) or fūl, is an Egyptian dish made with fava beans. Ful medames likely originated thousands of years ago. In Medieval Cairo, the fava beans were cooked overnight in hot ashes leftover from heating public baths; ful is Arabic for beans, and medames likely comes from the word dims, or ashes. In Egypt today, cooks make ful medames by soaking dried fava beans overnight. Next, they boil the beans, then let them simmer slowly on the stovetop overnight for breakfast the next morning. When tender and soupy, the beans are mixed and mashed with oil or samneh (clarified butter similar to ghee).
Ful medames takes on regional variations throughout North Africa and the Middle East. In Jordan, for example, ful medames is a hummus-like dip. In Syria, ful medames tends to be spicier. Moroccan ful medames has a more soup-like consistency. Another version is the ful medames salad, which features cooked, chilled fava beans mixed with tomato, onion, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.
How to Serve Ful Medames
It’s typical to eat ful medames with eggs for breakfast, but it can also be part of a mezze, or appetizer platter. The soupy consistency of fūl is perfect for scooping with the Egyptian flatbread aysh baladi or warm fresh-baked pita bread. For mezze, serve fūl with simple appetizers such as marinated feta or labneh, olives, and tomato or cucumber salads. Combine ful medames with condiments such as tangy pickles and sliced spring onions or green onions. Egyptians drizzle ful medames with salatet tehina, a tahini-garlic-vinegar sauce.
Simple Ful Medames Recipe
Prep Time15 min
Total Time2 hr 30 min
Cook Time2 hr 15 min
- 1 cup dried Egyptian fava beans, soaked overnight (or substitute 15 ounces of canned beans)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (or ghee)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chile powder, such as cayenne or Aleppo pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or mashed into a paste with a mortar and pestle
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (or fresh lemon juice)
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley, to serve
- Lime or lemon wedges, to serve
- 2 fried or hard-boiled eggs, to serve (optional)
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced, to serve (optional)
- Drain soaked or canned beans and rinse under cold water. In a medium pot, cover beans with cold water by 1 inch.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until very tender and soupy, about 2 hours for dried beans and 15 minutes for canned beans.
- Use a ladle to remove 1–2 cups of beans and cooking liquid. Use a potato masher or fork to mash the beans, then return to the pot with olive oil, cumin, chile powder, salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Simmer until liquid is reduced and flavors have melded, about 5–10 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime or lemon juice. Serve with lime or lemon wedges, eggs, and onion.
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