What a beautiful Saturday morning – warm and sunny!
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I sometimes make beans for breakfast (but we’ve also had it as a vegan dinner during Lent). As weird as it sounds, beans are actually a great breakfast item because of their high fiber and protein content. In Egypt, most of the working class eats ful (Arabic for brown fava beans – known more as ‘broad beans’ in the U.S.) for breakfast every morning, because it’s cheap, healthy, and very filling. Several sources affirmed that this meal has been around for over 5,000 years- first enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, and now celebrated as a prime source of protein for peoples all over the world (especially in the Middle East). Apparently (and I had to look this up), the word medames (you may find different spellings like mudammas or mudamas) comes from a Coptic (ancient Egyptian) word meaning “buried”; it was named so because of the age-old cooking method of burying a covered pot of water with beans under hot coals. Thankfully, we now have electric or gas stoves, so no there is no need to fetch the coal to make this meal!
While you can find canned ful medames in any Middle-Eastern grocery store (made with different spices too- Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese), I prefer to buy the dried beans and cook them myself. (The canned ful has unhealthy preservatives, like EDTA, that I prefer completely eliminating from my diet – not to mention the harmful levels of BPA present in the plastic linings of most canned foods.) Cooking the fava beans yourself requires some patience, though, because it involves a little preparation from the day before (soaking it in filtered water with a little bit of liquid whey or apple cider vinegar – to make it more digestible when consumed). But, the good news is that it is well worth it!
In addition to the fact that they taste great and are very filling, fava beans also have a decent nutritional profile:
While fava beans are somewhat less common in American cuisine, you might consider making them a more frequent addition to your diet, especially if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans seeking more fiber in their diet. Fava beans are especially high in fiber (85% of the RDV), and also high in iron (30% of a day’s requirement), and very low in sodium. Additionally, they contain no cholesterol and are low in fat. Fava beans are also noted to contain [naturally occurring] L-dopa, which is used as a drug for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, as with most whole grains, consumption of fava beans can help reduce risks associated with heart disease (Associated Content).
Here’s what you’ll need to make the Egyptian variation of ful medames:
- 1 lb of dried fava beans, soaked overnight (I bought the Ziyad brand from the local Middle-Eastern store – they don’t have the dried fava beans online)
- 3 tablespoons of tahini, preferably raw, with no added oils to the ground sesame seeds
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, ground
- 1 tablespoon of organic cumin
- 1 tablespoon organic ground coriander seed
- juice of 2 large Persian limes
- extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- finely diced fresh tomato, cucumber, parsley, and scallions
And here’s how to make it:
- Add 7-8 cups of water to 1 pound of dried fava beans in a large pot. Boil on high for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard water. Add more water, and a tablespoon of liquid whey or apple cider vinegar, cover, set aside on the counter and leave to soak overnight.
- The next day, drain the water and add 7-8 cups of fresh water to the pot. Cook on low-medium heat for about 5 hours (water will be boiling but slowly), adding *hot* water every couple of hours when the water runs low due to evaporation – make sure to add only hot water, as cooler water will slow down cooking time. (4-5 hours is not a set time, by the way. You have to check every couple of hours to see if the skin around the bean has become soft enough to chew; if not yet, you need more time).
- Remove from heat. Grind 6-8 cloves of garlic and add to the beans.
- Add 3 tablespoons of tahini and stir well. At this point, the beans should look like this:
6. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, olive oil, lime (squeeze both limes), and stir well.
7. Use hand-held blender to mash and blend beans in mixture.
8. Dice tomato into cubes, and chop cucumber, scallions, parsley as shown:
10. Put the mashed ful medames into a bowl. Add chopped veggies on top. Serve hot with sourdough bread or pita bread, and enjoy!
And here’s a close-up of the delicious finished product :
The amount of ful medames we made lasted about a week in our fridge. We ate it for dinner two days in a row, and then for breakfast a few times…
Some westerners have stumbled upon this Egyptian best-kept breakfast secret! Here is what personal chef Dennis Wasko has to say. Blake Royer, author of the The Paupered Chef, gives a recipe of ful medames with eggs – it looks really yummy; I’d love to try it that way!
Have you ever made ful medames from scratch before?