Recipe: Cranberry Bean “Fool Mudammas” (aka Borlotti Beans)

Cranberry Bean Fool Mudammas (aka Borlotti Beans)
Cranberry Bean "Fool Mudammas" (aka Borlotti Beans)

I’d never worked with Cranberry beans (also known as Borlotti beans) before. By appearance they reminded me of pinto beans with more spots. I knew they were best known for use in Italian soups. But when I boiled them up and tasted them, the flavor immediately reminded me of dried fava beans. And that got me craving Foul Mudammas. (Which can also be spelled Fool Mudammas, or Ful Medames, or Foul Moudammas, yikes!).

Foul is a dish that originated in Egypt and is eaten all over the Middle East and East Africa. It is most often served for breakfast, with a flatbread. And of course there are many local variations. I’ve had it with a mix of fava beans and garbanzos (chickpeas), thick as refried beans or thin as a soup, insanely garlicky or totally mild, topped with a hardboiled egg or not, and even served with Italian bread at an Ethiopian restaurant, with lots of sliced chilis.

For American tastes, most people (sadly) wouldn’t want this for breakfast but would love it for a healthy, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dinner.

Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure cranberry beans are not an authentic choice! I suppose not by definition since "foul" means favas. But the flavor and texture was so close, I thought it would work, and it did to my taste.

For the recipe below, you can of course use canned beans, just skip to step 2. Feel free to switch back to fava beans instead of the borlotti beans.

Cranberry Bean (aka Borlotti Beans) "Foul Mudammas" 
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves about 4 as a main course, or more as part of a meze

  • 1.5 c. dry cranberry (borlotti) beans or 3 c. canned beans of your choice
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 2 T. olive oil plus more for garnish
  • salt
  • cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • green onions, white parts only, cut in half lengthwise and then 1/4" pieces
  • radishes, sliced thin
  • black pepper
  1. If using dried beans, rinse them, pick over to get rid of any extraneous material, and boil in a large amount of unsalted water until tender. You can also soak them overnight beforehand to reduce the cooking time.
  2. Crush the garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle with a bit of kosher salt. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use a garlic press or a knife.
  3. Drain the beans and return them to a saucepan with water to just cover. Bring back to a boil and reduce to a simmer for five minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, the lemon juice, olive oil and 2 t. of salt. Turn off the heat.
  5. With the bottom of a glass, or something else large and flat, carefully crush some of the beans to create a thick broth with about 1/2 the beans remaining semi-whole.
  6. Taste and adjust with more salt and/or lemon juice.
  7. Put the beans in a bowl, and garnish with a good quantity of tasty olive oil, cherry tomatoes, green onions, radishes, and black pepper. Sliced hard-boiled egg is nice too.
  8. Serve with pita bread or other flatbread.


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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, May 8th, 2008 in Main Courses, Recipes.

10 Responses to “Recipe: Cranberry Bean “Fool Mudammas” (aka Borlotti Beans)”

  1. Reply
    May 9, 2008 at 12:32 am #

    The first time I see Foold Mudammas featured on a blog!! My dad is Egyptian, so I’m totally familiar with this dish- a big breakfast favourite for Egyptians…although I personally find it a bit “heavy” for bfast, I wouldnt mind having it for lunch instead!

  2. Reply
    May 9, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    That looks delish!

    I love radishes, so this picture definitely caught my eye. Also, I’ve never used cranberry beans before either! This sounds like an excellent recipe to try them (even for breakfast!).

    Great pic, too!

  3. Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    I adore foul moudammes. I had to try so many different spellings to gather recipes!
    Whilst one of my favourites, it’s something I have yet to blog.

    Good idea to try with borlottis, although I do love putting them in soups and stews, especially when I find them fresh.

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    May 14, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    I’ve never worked with fresh borlotti beans, I bet they are delicious. Not for this recipe of course, Foul definitely wants a dried bean that you “mush”.

  5. Reply
    August 6, 2008 at 5:03 pm #

    Mmm … love foul, I’ve only had it with fava beans. And topped with some fresh feta or goat cheese 🙂

  6. Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Oh, thank you for this insight. We adore fuul, but live in rural Virginia where favas are hard to come by. (We failed twice at growing them ourselves, even though we’re pretty decent farmers of veggies, including Molokhiya, another Egyptian favorite!) So knowing I can use cranberry beans and get a decent rendition of our favorite dish, morning, noon, or night, is terrific.

  7. Reply
    January 10, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Hi Michael,
    I’d like to ask your opinion about something, namely, cooking beans. We cook a lot of beans here, and we’ve always done it the traditional way (soak, simmer on the stovetop, no salt till they’re cooked). Today I tried the Parsons method (basically, salt from the beginning and baking in the oven), two kinds: black beans and gigandes. It was really surprising – definitely the best beans I’ve ever made, with much more complex flavors. Have you ever tried this? Or are you a pressure cooker type?

    • Reply
      January 10, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      First I’ve heard of the Parsons method, sounds interesting. I’m definitely a pressure cooker guy, as I often don’t plan enough ahead to soak. I find it makes great, tender beans with no presoak. Another interesting option is sous vide, with a soak. The beans come out all perfect, none burst.

  8. Reply
    January 10, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I don’t have a pressure cooker, but it sounds like it’s worth getting one, given the amount of legumes we eat. Do you have a recommendation for a particular pressure cooker?

    • Reply
      January 10, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      I have this electric one and love it: link to – with maybe one concern that the pressure might be under 15 psi and therefore not perfect for some advanced applications like trying to get Maillard reactions – but in practice it has worked fine for me. If you prefer stovetop, people love their Kuhn Rikon’s – choose your price point and features: link to

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