FUL MEDAMES; The fava bean porridge

Ful medames (Arabic: فول مدمس‎‎, fūl midammis), or simply fūl, is a Somali dish of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, and chili pepper.  It is also a staple food in Egypt, especially in the northern cites of Cairo and Gizah. 

African Dishes (Ful medames (Egypt) 2.jpg

Ful Medames is traditionally served for breakfast or lunch, sometimes together with hummus, alongside fresh warm pita bread. The bread is used to scoop up the fava beans. You can also find this dish quite filling without the bread, so those of you who are gluten-free can readily enjoy this recipe too. You can also use roasted garlic in the Ful, which is easier to digest than raw. Either can be used; raw garlic will have a stronger flavor in the finished dish.

African Dishes (Ful medames (Egypt) 1

The Ingredients

  • 2 cups (16 oz.) cooked fava beans, broad beans, or brown beans (can also be a 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 raw or 4 roasted garlic cloves, chopped (to learn to roast garlic, click here)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Juice from 2 fresh lemons (or more to taste)

Optional Toppings

  • Sliced hard boiled egg
  • Diced ripe red tomato
  • Raw onion sliced into rings
  • Fresh minced parsley or cilantro
  • Red chili pepper flakes
  • Paprika
  • Tahini sauce

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

In Egypt, small, purple beans (a fava variety) are a popular street food, frequently eaten in the morning. This is my own version of the traditional Egyptian preparation. It makes a complete breakfast on its own–and an even heartier one when served with scrambled eggs and toast.

  • Fresh fava beans are ideal for this recipe, but you can also use dried or canned favas, or any kind of broad bean or small, plump brown bean (pintos, habas, etc.), dried or canned. If using dried beans, soak and cook them ahead of time. If using canned, rinse and thoroughly drain them ahead of time.
  • Be sure to use a high-quality, flavorful extra virgin olive oil as the seasoning.
  • You can use a less expensive “virgin” or “pure” olive oil for sautéing.

The Process

  1. Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, wait another 30 seconds or so, then swirl to coat the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, and sautŽ for 5 to 8 minutes, or until it becomes very soft.


2. Add the beans and the garlic, and stir gently, so you don’t break the beans. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes.


3. Pour the fava bean mixture into a mixing bowl. Squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Mash the mixture to a semi-smooth consistency; it should be a little more chunky than hummus. For a mashing tool, I like to use my spice pestle. You can also use a potato masher or the back of a large metal spoon.


4. Serve each portion on a plate as you would hummus. Create a shallow basin in the center of the Ful Medames. Drizzle olive oil lightly inside the basin, then garnish with the ingredients of your choice. Serve hot.

Ful Medames Served hot


Tori Avey,

Mollie Katzen.

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