Ful medames is sort of the national breakfast of Egpyt, though it has spread far and wide from there. I’ve published an Ethiopian version before. I’ve never been to Egypt, but it sounds like the most common kind there is at least partially mashed. The one I’m showing you today is more reminiscent of the first ful I ever had, at a terrific Armenian restaurant that I used to haunt in East Providence, Rhode Island, almost 30 years ago. The beans there were served whole, in their own broth, doctored up with plenty of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.
So, then what’s up with the “marrowfat peas” in the title of this recipe? Well, we were vacationing on Whidbey Island and wandered into a Dutch specialty shop. In addition to the usual tchotchkes you’d expect to find in such a place, they had actually a rather nice selection of Dutch specialty foods, including these marrowfat peas, aka kapucijners. (No, I have no idea how you pronounce that.) The nice lady at the counter said she uses them for soup, but the shape reminded me so much of round, dried fava beans that I immediately wanted to make them into ful. So I did. It has fresh oregano on it because I didn’t have any parsley. So maybe this is what an Egyptian on boat full of Dutch sailors would make for breakfast when he landed in Crete.
Ful makes a terrific, rib-sticking breakfast, but if you are one of these crazy Americans that can only handle pancakes for breakfast, it is darn good for lunch or dinner too. Traditional accompaniments would be toasted pita and a fried egg if you like that sort of thing.
Whole Bean Ful Medames – With Fava Beans or Marrowfat Peas
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free
10 minutes after the beans are cooked
- 1 pound dried dark brown marrowfat peas or dried *round* fava beans (the flat ones aren’t good for ful)
- Optional: 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (for a little variety)
- 4 cloves garlic, very finel minced. Use more or less to your taste.
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt
- Copious extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons
- Fresh oregano or parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse and pick through the beans for any extraneous material. Cover with a good amount of water and soak overnight. Drain and add fresh water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a low boil and cook until tender, adding more water if needed. You can also cook them in a pressure cooker if you like, but I don’t know the exact time you’ll need. You can refrigerate the beans and broth overnight if you like, and then reheat them the next day. Drain the beans but reserve the cooking liquid, which will become the broth for your ful.
- Toss the marrowfat peas or fava with the optional chickpeas, garlic, cumin, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you don’t like raw garlic, you can briefly sizzle it in a little olive oil first. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Spoon the beans into serving bowls and ladle some, but not too much, of the hot broth over the top. If you like, you could mash some of the beans. Drizzle lots more olive oil over the top. Garnish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, the oregano or parsley, and several grinds of black pepper. Serve hot.