Ful Medames is a Middle Eastern fava bean stew. There are probably as many variations as there are cooks in that corner of the world. I first learned about this dish from a friend who had been born in Egypt. She made it often and it was delicious! Hers was simple, just the cooked fava beans, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I lost touch with her years ago, but I am certain that wherever she is, she still puts on a pot of these beans regularly.
After coming across an interesting sounding recipe for Ful recently, I ordered some small/medium size whole unpeeled fava beans online. They are usually available in Middle Eastern grocery stores, but getting them delivered to your door is pretty convenient. All legumes are very nutritious. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. We eat some beans or lentils most days. Legumes are a cheap, healthy and incredibly versatile!
Anyways, in order to get the true taste of this wonderful stew you’ll have to procure some small or medium skin-on dried fava beans. The beans are quite hard and need to be soaked over night. I left mine soaking in the fridge for two days. Then I cooked them in my Instant Pot. When they were tender I put the finishing touches on the beans. The recipe here was featured in the WaPo a while back and I really like the addition of the the tahini drizzle. While it seems like a time consuming recipe, it really isn’t! It just takes a little planning ahead to give the beans enough time to rehydrate.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, you can simmer them on the stove top. Just keep an eye on the beans and make sure that there’s always enough water covering them.
If you want to try the crockpot method, add the soaked beans to the crockpot, cover with water, put on the lid and cook them on low until tender.
- 1 pound of whole, skin-on small fava beans
- sea salt
- several cloves of garlic, finely minced
- good quality olive oil
- 2 or 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
- or a small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
- a little ground cumin
- lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pita bread or Naan for serving this
Sort and rinse the fava beans and place them in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with plenty of cold water and soak the beans overnight. Drain the soaked beans and put them into your IP inner pot. Add water to cover the beans by about 2 inches, then close and seal the lid. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour and let the pressure come down naturally. Taste a few of the beans for doneness. If they aren’t super tender, cook them a little longer.
When the beans are ready, smash a few with a spoon and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Cover the beans to keep them hot.
Now chop the parsley and green or red onion. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix it well.
Tahini Drizzle for Ful Medames
- 1/2 cup of Tahini
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- ice-cold water
In a small bowl whisk together the tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Add a little water at a time until the sauce is about the consistency of cream.
When you’re ready to serve the stew, put the beans into individual serving bowls, top with a little of the parsley-onion mixture and ground cumin. Then drizzle a little tahini sauce and a splash of olive oil over the individual servings of Ful. Server with extra lemon juice and pita bread or naan.
Leftover beans keep for several days and reheat well. Store the tahini sauce and the parsley mixture in separate small containers in the fridge. After reheating the fava beans top them with the add-ons. In the Middle East this healthy dish is often eaten for breakfast. What a great way to start your day!
My breakfast of Ful Medames at the Borough Market in London, England in 2016