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What Is Ful Medames?

Ful medames is a dish popular in countries of the Middle East.
Fava beans, in ingredient in ful medames.
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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2014
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Ful medames is a dish of fava beans flavored with garlic, lemon, and cumin. This dish is made by boiling fava beans in unsalted water until they are tender, then mashing them into the boiling liquid. After the beans have been mashed, they are served in bowls to be seasoned by diners supplied with a spread of seasonings, additives, and condiments. Also called Egyptian fava beans, these beans are popular breakfast food in Egypt. This dish is also popular in other parts of Africa and the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia.

For breakfast, this food is commonly served alongside a cooked egg and a piece of bread, often pita bread. Eggs served with ful medames are most often served poached, fried, or hard boiled. Though they are most commonly eaten at breakfast, ful medames are also eaten any time of the day and can be purchased from street vendors in some popular public areas of Egypt. Outside of Egypt, most people either make them from scratch at home or buy them canned from a supermarket with ethnic goods.

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In most places, including restaurants and at home, ful medames come prepared with their basic ingredients and served with a number of condiments and additions diners can use to adjust the flavor of the dish. Common additions that vary the flavor of ful medames include tahini, garlic sauce, and tomato sauce. Diners can also stir in cumin, parsley, or onion. Some people eat ful medames with eggs and cured meats, while others eat the dish with nothing but a small amount of oil and salt or butter on top.

Ful medames is an ancient and historic dish that is thought to have been consumed by pharaohs in Egypt. Ancient evidence of beans flavored in this manner has been found indicating that this dish could have originated as many as 1900 years before the common era (BCE), though the cooking techniques used to make the dish were different. Ful medames are eaten by both rich and poor and the dish remains the most popular way of eating fava beans, a staple food in Egypt.

Fava beans, also called broad beans, are fairly large beans that grow in big pods. This type of bean originally came from Egypt and other areas of northern Africa, as well as southern Asia. They can be eaten many ways, including dried as a snack, steamed, or cooked into a mash as in ful medames.

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