If you are a fan of beans you may have made something like this before but are unfamiliar with the name.
Ful medames is an Egyptian dish but is also popular in the Middle East and North Africa. It would normally be served warm, made from the freshly cooked beans but for reasons I shall explain here, these were served cold.
Garlicky bean salads feature regularly in my house, especially in the summer months as for me they are the ideal dish, something that can be thrown together at the drop of a hat. These quick and easy meals are a great bonus for me after coming in from a days work in the garden and are so healthy too they are a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to summer eating.
The fava beans used on this particular occasion, and for several subsequent meals, actually started out as a culinary mistake which I was very glad I made. I was supposed to be making falafel and in my haste I prepared the wrong beans. I should have soaked split fava beans without the skins but instead soaked and cooked these whole Hodmedod’s British dried fava beans.
When making falafel (which I cooked successfully the next day), the split fava beans only need to be soaked. If they are cooked, they will probably disintegrate in the pan when frying.
The pictures below shows soaked and then cooked whole fava beans.
Luckily I realised my mistake before processing the beans down to mush, but was left looking rather forlornly at a huge bowl of cooked beans which I didn’t know what to do with on the spur of the moment.
The lovely people at Hodmedod’s suggested a ful medames and after looking up a few recipes I realised the ingredients were extremely similar to what I normally add to beans anyway, now I can give my garlicky bean salad a somewhat smarter and exotic sounding name.
I had some for lunch with a boiled egg, advocado, sliced onions and tomatoes and the following day Michael and I both had a rather large plateful for breakfast with fried eggs and a few sliced spring onion, both occasions with toasted flat breads. The addition of a little cayenne sprinkled over the top and on the egg just added that little extra heat, lovely for us but too hot for my son, so only add it if you like the extra punch.
I found the first few sprigs of mint growing in the garden and this really lifted the flavours too, something I would recommend if you have any growing to hand.
Usually once the beans have cooked they are mixed with a little of the cooking water to make them a bit looser when lightly mashed with a fork, but as I had thrown the cooking water away, every time I used some beans out of the bowl I smashed them in a little boiling water which was absolutely fine.
Straying away from the recipe a little, as strictly speaking ful medames is made with fava beans only, if you are making a salad tinned beans could be used also and I have mixed cannellini, haricot and butter beans with the same flavours and they are always delicious. Sometimes a little red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice can be added to balance the acidity. Different herbs can be used for personal preference, try mint or coriander, both work well.
Parsley, mint and coriander are all very easy to grow in the garden or in pots (mint is probably better in a pot as it spreads like wild fire) and if you use a lot of herbs they really are worth growing yourself. There is a great satisfaction picking and using your own herbs, not too mention the small fortune you will save if you are regularly buying them from the supermarket at over a pound for a handful of leaves which are going to wilt in a few days time.
I must admit I did feel rather stupid after I had soaked and cooked the wrong beans but it turned out I had inadvertently made a very handy and tasty mistake.
- 3 Cups Cooked Whole Fava Beans, smashed lightly with a fork
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed or Finely Chopped
- Handful of Chopped Parsley
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- Salt and Black Pepper
- Cayenne for serving (optional)
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Sprinkle with a little cayenne if liked and serve.
- Serve with lemon wedges, flat bread or toasted pitta, boiled or fried egg.