Ful medames (Arabic: فول مدمس, fūl mudammas IPA: [fuːl mudammas]; other spellings include ful mudammas and foule mudammes), or simply fūl, is a stew of cooked fava beans served with olive oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper, and other vegetable, herb, and spice ingredients. Ful medames is traditionally made in and served out of a large metal jug. It is notably a staple food in Egypt and is considered a national dish, especially in the northern cities of Cairo and Gizah. Fava beans can sometimes be also found in other cuisines in the Middle East, and Africa, though cooked differently.
|Course||Breakfast, main course|
|Place of origin||Egypt|
|Main ingredients||Fava beans, vegetable oil, cumin|
|Variations||Lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic|
This cooking method is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud, indicating that the method was used in Horn of African and Middle Eastern countries since the fourth century. Although there are countless ways of embellishing fūl, the basic recipe remains the same. Once the fūl is cooked, it is salted and eaten plain or accompanied by vegetable oil, corn oil, butter, clarified butter, buffalo milk, béchamel sauce, cured beef (basturma), fried or boiled eggs, tomato sauce, garlic sauce, tahini, fresh lemon juice, chili peppers, or other ingredients.
In the Middle Ages, the making of fūl in Cairo was monopolized by the people living around the Princess Baths, a public bath in a tiny compound near today's public fountain of Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha, a block north of the two elegant minarets of the Mosque of Sultan al-Muayyad above the 11th century Bab Zuweila gate. During the day, bath attendants stoked the fires heating the qidras, which are huge pots of bath water. Wood was scarce, so garbage was used as fuel and eventually a dump grew around the baths. When the baths closed, the red embers of the fires continued to burn. To take advantage of these precious fires, huge qidras were filled with fava beans, and these cauldrons were kept simmering all night, and eventually all day too, in order to provide breakfast for Cairo's population. Cookshops throughout Cairo would send their minions to the Princess Baths to buy their wholesale fūl.
Fūl is prepared from the small, round bean known in Egypt as fūl ḥammām ("bath beans"). The beans are cooked until very soft. Other kinds of beans used by Egyptian cooks are fūl rūmī ("Roman", i.e. "European broad beans"), large kidney-shaped fava beans, and fūl baladī ("country beans", which are of middling size). Fūl nābit (or nābid) are fava bean sprouts, fūl akhḍar ("green fūl") are fresh fava beans, and fūl madshūsh ("crushed fūl") are crushed fava beans.
Ful medames was exported from Egypt to other parts of the Arab world, as well as other parts of Africa and Asia, but particularly to Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Morocco and Libya.
Ful is a popular breakfast dish in Syria, especially Aleppo. The fava beans are left simmering in large copper jars throughout the night, to be served from the next morning on; the beans swim in tahini and olive oil, completed with a hint of red pepper paste (made from Aleppo pepper) over the top.
In Jordan, ful is made just like hummus in a form of a dip, usually made with tahini, garlic, tomato, lemon juice, ground cumin, olive oil, green peppers and salt.
In Somalia, fuul is a staple in breakfast food. It is often served with eggs, khubz/ceesh bread or the traditional Somali flatbread called laxoox/canjeero. It is very similar to the Egyptian, Sudanese, and Saudi variants of the dish, but usually spicier due to Somalis' use of the xawaash spice mixture (cumin, coriander, sage, peppercorn, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and saffron).
In Morocco ful is known as bissara and consists of fava beans and split green peas (known locally as jabbana) boiled together with garlic and served with cumin and seasoning. It is particularly popular in the north of the country and is eaten during the cold winter months.
In Ethiopia (and Eritrea), ful is one of the few dishes not eaten with a pancake-like bread called injera but is served with wheat flour bread. Places serving ful and the accompanying flour bread often provide a communal kitchen for patrons seeking to bake such types of breads since flour bread is not typical in the Ethiopian or Eritrean diet. The beans are topped, or mixed with, a combination of oil and berbere.
In Malta, ful bit-tewm (beans with garlic) is usually associated with fasting during Lent and Good Friday. The beans are soaked in water overnight, cooked in oil with garlic and fresh or dried mint, then dressed with olive oil or vinegar before serving.
The meal has also travelled as far as Malaysia, in particular the state of Johore, and Singapore where it has been adapted into the local recipe kacang pool, which incorporates ghee in place of oil and minced meat. Kidney beans and baked beans are also added to give the dish more body.
Ful medames salad (Arabic: سلطة فول مدمس) is an Arab breakfast mezze favorite, but it is also eaten as a hearty salad. It typically consists of fava beans, chopped tomatoes, onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and salt.
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