Ful Medames (full-med-a-mees) is by all accounts the national dish of Egypt. This fava bean dish, ful madame means “bean” in Egyptian. It is eaten at any time of day, every day of the week, and anywhere; at home for breakfast and snack, on the street, restaurants, in the city, in village mud huts, you name it. Everywhere. According to an old Arab saying, “Beans have satisfied even the Pharaohs“. Egyptians wax passionately about the little brown fava beans that have even been found in the ancient tombs of Pharaohs.
It seems the pharaohs at least had nice meals of ful medames and the pyramids for their burial tombs. The real question though, is how did 10,000 pyramid builders got fed daily? There was catering, of course.
The builders of the famous Giza pyramids in Egypt feasted on food from a massive catering-type operation, the remains of which scientists have discovered at a workers’ town near the pyramids. Archaeologists estimate that more than 4,000 pounds of meat-from cattle, sheep and goats- were slaughtered every day, on average, to feed the pyramid builders.
So, when making and eating ful medames, you can think of civilization’s earliest caterers providing this classic dish to scores of hungry workers.
Ful Medames – Egyptian Fava Beans
- large saucepan
- 15 oz Can ful medames beans or small fava beans
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Lemon juice
- 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Garnishes: Sliced red onion marinated ½ hr. in vinegar and/or 1 peeled hard boiled egg per-person and/or chopped scallions and/or a dollop of tahini or yogurt
- Drain and rinse beans. Put in a saucepan and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Drain beans and remove ⅓ cup to mash. Transfer rinsed and mashed beans to a bowl. Mix in cumin, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with parsley and garnish with any of the garnishes listed in ingredients.
- Serve warm or cold with flatbread.