Warm Fava Bean (Ful) Salad with Tamarind Dressing – Recipe

Warm Fava Bean Salad with Tamarind Dressing

Dried fava beans (aka ful or fool) come in several shapes and sizes; the kind you want for this salad are small and round, about the size of a chickpea, not lima bean shaped. The most typical preparation for them is ful mudammas. For today's dish, I used them in a warm salad spiked with tamarind and Aleppo peper, two flavors typical of Syrian cuisine.

Tamarind is best known for its use in Southeast Asian dishes, like Indian rasam and sambar. It lends its tart, fruity flavor to some versions of Pad Thai as well. Apparently it is also popular in Syria, where it was no doubt brought via the ancient trade routes.

Tamarind is the pulp from a seed-pod that grows on a tropical tree of the same name. You can buy the whole pods, or just the pulp and seeds compressed into a brick, or a fully prepared concentrate. The first two forms probably taste a little better but they require a lot of work, hydrating the pulp with boiling water and then forcing it through a sieve to remove strings and seeds. Personally, I use the Tamicon brand of concentrate. Call me lazy, but it means a salad like this can come together in ten minutes.

I served this with a meal of mujadara, roasted cauliflower, tahineh sauce (prepared tahini with garlic and olive oil), and pita bread. 

Warm Fava Bean (Ful) Salad with Tamarind Dressing
Serves 6 as a side dish
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free

  • 2 15 oz. cans cooked fava beans (ful), drained and rinsed – Sahara is a good brand
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon Tamicon brand tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more Aleppo pepper, or substitute 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped but reserve a few for garnish
  1. Combine the beans, celery and onion and warm gently in a saucepan or the microwave.
  2. Combine the tamarind paste and boiling water and stir until liquified. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously. Whisk in the salt and aleppo pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be rather tart.
  3. Mix the dressing and the minced parsley into the beans. Let sit five minutes and then give a final taste, adding more salt or Aleppo pepper as needed.
  4. Garnish with the reserved parsley leaves and serve.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, October 26th, 2009 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Salads, Vegan or Modifiable.

11 Responses to “Warm Fava Bean (Ful) Salad with Tamarind Dressing – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    October 26, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    Sounds great.

    Since you had another article about people with food allergies, I should mention “favism”, which my father-in-law (a physician) brought up when I cooked favas earlier this summer. According to Wisegeek (link to wisegeek.com), “[f]avism is a medical condition which is caused by an enzyme deficiency in the blood. People with this deficiency can experience anemia as a result of exposure to fava beans,” and “[the person] may feel tired, feverish, or experience a headache, and the condition can also cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. If left untreated, favism can result in serious health problems, like a coma. Early warning signs of favism include jaundice, dark urine, and a general sense of feeling run down and tired all the time.”

    So: (1) favas are great, and this sounds like a wonderful recipe. (2) watch your family carefully after the first time you serve them, just in case.

    By the way, the canned favas make a lot of sense in this recipe. Fresh ones have this extra “skin” around each bean that can be a real pain. It’ll turn your 10-minute salad into a 45-minute annoyance. 🙁

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 26, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    Interesting! I had mistakenly thought that favism was only developed by people who harvest fava beans for a living, didn't know it was something arbitrary members of the population could have. Good thing to watch out for.

  3. Reply
    October 26, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    I haven’t cooked with tamarind, so I’m glad to learn about my options. This dish sounds delicious, and in fact, I’d like to try the whole meal you described!

  4. Reply
    October 27, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    I make something similar but with Chick Peas (Garbanzo beans). I use tamarind sauce, a pinch of garam masala, and salt and pepper. It is my lazy food. So easy, and so yummy. Especially when you have some trader joe’s flat bread handy. Yumm.
    Love your site. Posted you on our Manzanillo Mexico travel blog as a good source for Veggie recipes. Being a vegetarian in Mexico takes some creativity… and large suitcases.

  5. Reply
    October 27, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Dear oh dear. That looks great. My Brit friend call Ful Mudamas “the Full Mohammed”, when he orders it, he eats way too much of it. I’ll have to make this for him. I love Tamicon too, especially since writing it into a recipe is much more exact than making your own from the sticky block. (See my pad thai recipe, or instance.)

  6. Reply
    October 28, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    I am glad I don’t have favism….lovely salad, I could do with this right now…tell me Michael, does your tamarind paste taste sweet?

  7. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    October 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    @alessandra – nope, the Tamicon has no added sugar – it quite sour and fruity

  8. Reply
    October 28, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    Just in time – my sister is making a bit of a Middle Eastern Feast over this long weekend in Melbourne – have sent this onto her and now I’m excited to try it! 🙂

  9. Reply
    October 31, 2009 at 5:43 am #

    How exciting! I am always looking for new things to do with fava beans- other than lightly pan frying them and throwing them on top of some home made hummus, which is good but it’s been done many a time at our house. I just happen to have some tamarind concentrate and a bag of dried favas that I will not put to soak! Thank you again Michael, your website continues to inspire 🙂

  10. Reply
    October 31, 2009 at 11:28 am #

    oops, I meant ‘now put to soak’!

  11. Reply
    November 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    I made this recipe. When I got to the “drizzle in the oil while whisking,” part, I thought “Michael’s out of his mind. There’s no mixing taking place at all. The oil’s just floating on top.” But 10 minutes later, when I was ready to add it to the beans, I whisked a little more…and it mixed right up to the consistency I wanted. I think that perhaps if the tamarind is still quite hot from its mixing with the boiling water, it doesn’t want to emulsify.

    Overall, I liked the recipe, although I was handicapped by not having Fava beans. Who knew that in Providence, with its large Portuguese population, they’d be hard to find? I substituted a mix of 2/3 edamame, 1/3 lima, and it was OK as well. I think that next time I’ll increase the amount of sauce by about 50%.

    By the way, my own preferred tamarind concentrate is “Tamcon”. When you wrote “Tamicon,” I assumed it was a typo, but a web=search shows that both are available, both sold in containers with yellow labels and red printing, etc. Live and learn! I can attest that “Tamcon” is quite decent, for those who cannot find “Tamicon.”

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