Once again, bored to death of my cooking, I have experimented with a new-to-me recipe: the Middle Eastern staple Ful Medames or foul mudammas. I call these my pandemic recipes because if not for the enforced isolation, I would be eating regularly in diverse restaurants, of which Toronto was blessed with so many, a thousand years ago in relatively carefree pre-pandemic days. Instead, I am forced to improvise and experiment at home.
Ful Medames is a stew of fava beans served with olive oil, cumin, chopped salad and flatbread. The dish has been traced back to ancient Egypt and has subsequently traveled all over the Middle East and parts of Asia. There are many regional variations, and I’m going to share the one I ended up with after scanning several recipes online.
For my bean stew, I used a mix of chickpeas, red lentils, and fava beans. I had dried chickpeas and lentils, but all I could get was a tin of fava beans, so I went with that. Obviously, if you have a tin, you don’t need to soak the stuff beforehand, but dried beans and chickpeas must be soaked overnight.
Add a handful of red lentils to your soaked beans and chickpeas and put it all in a pressure cooker with sufficient water. Add salt, chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrots and one whole black cardamom. Cook for 1-2 hours at medium heat in the pressure cooker until soft. Then use a spoon to mash the stew so at least half the beans and chickpeas have dissolved into it.
Roast two teaspoons of cumin seeds and grind them. Add them to your stew. Also add half a head of freshly ground garlic, and generous amounts of lemon juice and olive oil. Now is also the time to add tahini if you are fortunate enough to have it. I didn’t, sadly. I didn’t even have sesame seeds to make tahini from scratch. But I did have Baba ghanoush and yes I know they are entirely separate things, but I served it as a side dish and it tasted wonderful with the naan.
Prepare your salad: chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and green chilies mixed with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Serve your bean stew with the salad and a flatbread of your choice. I used naan toasted with a hint of butter. I also added sliced boiled eggs and the Baba ghanoush for a festive look and a more complete plate.
And there you are. Ful Medames fit for a queen!