Ful Medames is a traditional, hearty and comforting breakfast stew of creamy fava beans and chickpeas dressed with herbs, spices and tomatoes. This recipe is both vegetarian and vegan and can be prepared as part of a much larger breakfast spread or meze.
What is Ful?
Ful is the Arabicized word for fava beans (or broad beans). The word Medames roughly translates to buried. So, when you put the two words together you essentially get a rough translation of buried fava beans. There are several ways to spell the name of this dish in English based on dialect such a ful Mudammas, Foul Mudammas, Foul Medames, and Ful M’dammas. However, you’ll most commonly find it spelled ful Medames.
The recipe involves mashing the beans to create a chunky bean dip that is seasoned with fresh herbs, vegetables, dry spices, olive oil and lemon juice.
Egyptian Ful Medames vs Levantine Ful Medames
The origin of this dish is a bit murky (as is the case with many recipes and dishes from the region) however the consensus is that originates in North Africa (Ancient Egypt). The classic Egyptian dish uses red fava beans exclusively whereas the Levantine (Lebanese, Palestinian, Jordanian and Syrian) recipes will include both red fava beans and chickpeas.
It is also part of a traditional breakfast table that can include other Levantine classic dishes like fattet hummus, homemade labneh, shanklish (labneh balls), eggplant hummus, Mutabal (roasted eggplant dip), hard-boiled eggs or Turkish Eggs. No Levantine breakfast spread is complete without fresh veggies.
To prepare this ful medames recipe you’ll need basic pantry and fridge staples. You probably have everything you need to make this right now!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Fava Beans: I recommend using canned fava beans (red or brown). You can of course boil your own dried fava beans, but why bother if you can just crack a can open?
- Olive oil: Use good quality extra virgin olive oil. Don’t skimp here and use the cheap stuff. Now would be a good time to use the fancy olive oil you got for your birthday.
- Fresh herbs: Fresh parsley is traditional, but I have made this recipe with both parsley and cilantro.
- Dry spices: Cumin is a traditional warm spice that is often used in traditional ful recipes. The flavor can be an acquired taste to use as little or as much as you like.
- Lemon: A key component to balance out the heavy, hearty and rich flavors of ful medames is an acid like lemon juice. There’s really no substitute for lemon juice, but if you don’t have any, lime juice will work on a pinch.
- Garlic: Fresh mashed garlic is often added, but this is entirely optional and up to you.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make Ful Medames
1. Boil. To a small pot on medium heat, empty a can of red fava beans and a can of chickpeas (with the liquid). Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 5-8 minutes, until fork tender. Season with ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste (Image #1).
2. Mash. Using the back of a fork or a potato masher, mash about half of the beans. You are looking for a chunky consistency. You might want to add a little water at this point to keep the bean texture slightly runny (Image #2).
3. Make dressing. In a small bowl combine the diced fresh tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and optional chili and garlic. Season with a little salt (Image #3).
4. Mix in. Mix in half the dressing with the mashed beans and heat through, 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning (Image #4a and Image 4b).
5. Dress. Transfer the mashed beans to a serving bowl and top with the remaining dressing. Drizzle with a generous glug of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice (Image #5).
Serve warm or at room temperature with some khubz (Pita).
Make Ahead and Storage
This recipe comes together so quickly that I think that there’s really no point in making it ahead of time. But if you wanted to save yourself a few minutes of preparation you could prepare the vegetables ahead of time.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Warm through in a pan or in the microwave before serving leftovers.
- Boil the beans. If you’re feeling up to it, you can boil or pressure cook the dry fava beans and chickpeas with plenty of cold water. The cooking time will depend on many factors. A pressure cooker is the best way to turn dry beans into usable, soft cooked beans quickly. Many modern pressure cookers will have a bean setting, so follow your manufacturer's directions.
Though you can technically boil and mash fresh fava beans to make this recipe, you will end up with a dish that does not have the same color as what would be expected. Using canned red or brown fava beans (broad beans) will yield the best results.
You can, but be very careful and only pulse as you go. The goal is to create a chunky dip, not a smooth dip. A potato masher or the back of a fork are the best tools.
Some suppliers are canning this recipe with the needed spices, salt and pepper. You can certainly use these canned products but you will still need to dress them with oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs/vegetables as you see fit.
No, they are entirely different beans.
If you make Ful Medames or any other Levantine recipe on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe.
Ful Medames (Levantine Chickpea and Fava Bean Stew)
- 1 can Red or brown fava beans - 14 fl oz (398ml)
- 1 can Chickpeas - 14 fl oz (398ml)
- ½ teaspoon Ground cumin - Use more or less to taste
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 Medium tomato - finely diced
- ¼ cup Fresh parsley - Chopped
- 1-2 Hot peppers - minced (Optional)
- 1 Garlic clove - minced (Optional)
- 2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon Lemon juice
- More olive oil and lemon juice to garnish
- Boil. To a small pot on medium heat, empty a can of red fava beans and a can of chickpeas (with the liquid). Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 5-8 minutes, until fork tender. Season with ground cumin, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Mash. Using the back of a fork or a potato masher, mash about half of the beans. You are looking for a chunky consistency. You might want to add a little water at this point to keep the bean texture slightly runny.
- Make dressing. In a small bowl combine the diced fresh tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season with a little salt.
- Mix in. Mix in half the dressing with the mashed beans and heat through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Dress. Transfer the mashed beans to a serving bowl and top with the remaining dressing. Drizzle with a generous glug of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with pita and fresh vegetables.