A breakfast must so full of beans

In every corner of Egypt, the day regularly starts with a bowl of Ful Medames, a veritable powerhouse of energy

Published: 31st March 2013 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2013 11:02 AM   |  A+A-


What comes to your mind when you hear the word "breakfast"?

If you were South Indian, you’d probably be thinking upma or perhaps idli, if North Indian, then parantha. If you were in Belgium then crepes and in France it would be croissants, burgers in the US or congee in China. Then there are the regulars like fruits, eggs, sausages, cereal and milk. However, if in Egypt, what you would be likely to reach out for would be a bowl of Ful Medames.

Ful Medames is an Egyptian creation that dates back to the 4th century. Considered peasant fare, Ful Medames is often eaten at breakfast or as a snack accompanied by boiled eggs or pita bread. The name itself reveals its Arabic origins, ‘ful’ being the Arabic word for fava beans and ‘medames’ the Coptic word for buried. ‘Buried’, is a reference to the original cooking style used, in which the beans were placed in a sealed pot of water under hot coals to cook. In Egypt the beans are boiled, mushed together and seasoned with salt and olive oil.  After being served, some choose to add toppings like tomatoes, onions, parsley, chili pepper, lemon juice, or even a splash of clarified butter or extra fat. There are stalls serving this delicious meal at every nook and corner all over Egypt ( just like you would see pav bhaji or chaat stalls here).

These dried fava beans are consumed in a similar fashion in the entire Arab world, eaten by the rich and poor alike, though recipes vary a little from region to region. Ful Medames is eaten most often at Ramadan in preparation for the day’s fast, as it is very filling and easy to make. In North America, Ful Medames is more commonly served as a soup with pieces of bread.

It is a delicious, healthy, vegetarian option: packed with 26g of protein per 100 grams of beans and 58 g of carbs, it’s the ideal high energy meal to have first thing in the morning. The beans compose plentiful of health benefiting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and plant-sterols. Some great facts you should know about the these beans are: fava/broad beans are rich in L-dopa, a substance used medically in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. L-dopa is also a natriuretic agent, which might help in controlling hypertension. They are also a very rich source of dietary fibre (66% per100g RDA).

Recipes vary, but this is the way I like to prepare my Ful Medames. If you can get your hands on some dried beans then soak them overnight, like you would rajma, and pressure cook them with some salt till soft. Or if you like you could even buy a tin of pre cooked (boiled and preserved in brine) ful.

It's as simple as stewing the beans for a few minutes, roughly mashing them with a fork, then mixing in chopped onion, tomato, , salt and cumin.

Drizzle some tahini and squeeze some lemon juice over it. Sprinkle some chopped flatleaf parsley and serve with warm pita bread.


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