Ful medames

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Ful medames
Ful medames served with sliced hard-boiled eggs
Alternative names Fūl
Course Breakfast, main course, hors d'oeuvre
Place of origin Egypt
Main ingredients Fava beans, vegetable oil, cumin
Variations Lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, chili pepper
Cookbook: Ful medames  Media: Ful medames
Typical fūl medames breakfast as served by an Egyptian street vendor with bread and pickled vegetables, as well as fresh rocket (arugula) leaves on the side.

Ful medames (Arabic: فول مدمس‎, fūl midammis  IPA: [fuːl meˈdæmmes]; alternate spellings include ful mudammas, as well as foule mudammes), or simply fūl, is an Egyptian dish of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, and chili pepper. It is a staple food in Egypt, especially in the northern cites of Cairo and Gizah. Ful medames is also a common part of the cuisines of the Levant, Northeast Africa (Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan), Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.


Some writers have suggested that beans were not commonly cultivated in Ancient Egypt; Herodotus in the fifth century BCE, mentions the fact that the Egyptians "never sow beans, and even if any happen to grow wild, they will not eat them, either raw or boiled."

Z1 N33
in hieroglyphs

The earliest evidence of the use of ful is a cache of 2,600 dried wild beans unearthed at a late Neolithic site on the outskirts of Nazareth.[1]

The word medammes was originally Coptic, meaning "buried",[2] and its use here might mean that the beans are buried in the pot. This cooking method is mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi, indicating that the method was used in Middle Eastern countries since the fourth century. Although there are countless ways of embellishing fūl, the basic recipe remains the same. Once the fūl is cooked, it is salted and eaten plain or accompanied by olive oil, corn oil, butter, clarified butter, buffalo milk, béchamel sauce, basturma, fried or boiled eggs, tomato sauce, garlic sauce, tahini, fresh lemon juice, chili peppers, or other ingredients.

In the Middle Ages, the making of fūl in Cairo was monopolized by the people living around the Princess Baths, a public bath in a tiny compound near today's public fountain of Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha, a block north of the two elegant minarets of the Mosque of Sultan Mu’ayyad Shaykh above the eleventh-century Bab Zuwaylah gate. During the day, bath-attendants stoked the fires heating the qidras, which are huge pots of bath water. Wood was scarce, so garbage was used as fuel and eventually a dump grew around the baths. When the baths closed, the red embers of the fires continued to burn. To take advantage of these precious fires, huge qidras were filled with fava beans, and these cauldrons were kept simmering all night, and eventually all day too, in order to provide breakfast for Cairo's population. Cookshops throughout Cairo would send their minions to the Princess Baths to buy their wholesale fūl.[3]

Fūl is prepared from the small, round bean known in Egypt as fūl ḥammām ("bath beans"). The beans are cooked until very soft. Other kinds of fava beans used by Egyptian cooks are fūl rūmī ("Roman", i.e. "European broad beans"), large kidney-shaped fava beans, and fūl baladī ("country beans", which are of middling size). Fūl nābit (or nābid) are fava bean sprouts, fūl akhḍar ("green fūl") are fresh fava beans, and fūl madshūsh ("crushed fūl") are crushed fava beans.

Other countries[edit]

Aleppo-style ful with tahini and olive oil, topped with Aleppo pepper sauce

Ful medames was exported from Egypt to other parts of the Arabic Speaking World, as well as other parts of Africa and Asia, but particularly to the Levant and the Horn of Africa.[4]

Ful is a popular breakfast dish in Syria, especially Aleppo. The fava beans are left simmering in large copper jars throughout the night, to be served from the next morning on; the beans swim in tahini and olive oil, completed with a hint of red pepper paste (made from Aleppo pepper) over the top.

Ful is a very common dish in Armenia, however unlike most Middle Eastern countries, it is modified with more exclusive and rare spices.[citation needed]

In Somalia, ful is eaten with a pancake-like bread called laxoox (canjeero/injera). It is also part of Ethiopian cuisine, where it is one of the only dishes not served with Ethiopia's traditional injera (flatbread). Instead, ful is served with standard flour bread, often providing a communal kitchen for patrons seeking to bake such types of breads. The beans are topped, or mixed with, a combination of oil and berbere.

In Malta, ful bit-tewm (beans with garlic) is usually associated with fasting during Lent and Good Friday. The beans are soaked in water overnight, cooked in oil with garlic and fresh or dried mint, then dressed with olive oil or vinegar before serving.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gil Marks, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food
  2. ^ 1,001 Foods to Die For, Madison Books, Andrews McMeel Publishing, p. 570.
  3. ^ Professor Janet Abu-Lughod - Princeton University Press
  4. ^ James C. McCann, Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine, (Ohio University Press: 2009), p.99.

External links[edit]