Eggnog, cheese balls, shrimp dip, trifle, fruit cake – there is no doubt about it, the closer we get to the holidays, the richer and heavier our food and drink becomes. Following a festive evening, what I really want to eat is an antidote to all that gluttony. Something nutritious, comforting and uncomplicated that resets my body’s balance and allows me to face another Christmas party buffet, plate in hand.
Ful medames is just such a meal. I’ve found three references to this rustic fava bean stew over the last few months, all of which highlight its role as a daily staple in
First, I spotted an October 3 New York Times article entitled “A Hand on the Ladle, and a Eye Out for the Law,” which told the story of the popular – but unlicensed, and therefore illegal – street vendors who ply Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods selling ful from their carts for the equivalent of 20 cents. Then, in Emma’s War: a True Story, I read journalist Deborah Scroggins’ descriptions of her attempts, during a 1988 visit to
Although ful medames is more typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack, I like to have a bowl for lunch or as a light supper. It is an especially appealing meal when I crave something wholesome and nourishing after a lazy holiday afternoon spent grazing over cheese platters and cramming my plate with every dessert on offer. Meet ful medames, my un-holiday holiday dish.
Ful Medames (Fava Bean Stew)
Serves 4 as a light main course
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 15-ounce cans fava beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions, sliced
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and bay leaves, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the chopped tomato and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash together the fava beans, lemon juice, tahini, parsley and salt in a separate bowl. Stir this mixture into the soup, making sure to break up any clumps of the mash. Simmer for another 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and remove the bay leaves. Ladle into serving bowls, scooping up from the bottom of the pot. Top with the eggs, scallions and cilantro leaves. Serve with warmed pita bread. If you want to eat ful as the Egyptians and Sudanese do, try using the pita bread to scoop up the stew, sans spoon.