Ful medames, a staple dish of fava bean porridge in North Africa and the Levant, has many regional variants. In Egypt, it’s often served for breakfast, accompanied by flatbread and pickled vegetables. My version adds black and kidney beans and red lentils for a more varied nutritional profile, as well as turmeric and black pepper. Add as garnishes the ones suggested below or more olive oil, vinegar, mint, parsley, chopped garlic, berbere or other hot pepper, or other ingredients of your own choosing.
- ½ cup dried fava beans
- ½ cup black beans
- ½ cup kidney beans
- ½ cup red lentils
- 1 piece kombu (approx. 2”x2”)
- 2-6 cloves garlic, crushed
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
- 1 tsp ground sumac
- 1 tsp coriander
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- handful of chopped black or green olives
- ½ cup chopped red onion or scallions
- 2 or 3 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges
Soak beans and lentils overnight in about 6 cups of water. The next day, check to see if all beans have fully plumped up and rehydrated; if not, soak for another day or so. Soaking not only greatly reduces cooking times but also leaches out phytates and enzyme inhibitors that can impair nutrient absorption.
Discard soaking water, rinse thoroughly, and heat beans & lentils in a saucepan with 5 cups filtered water and the kombu. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to lowest setting and simmer for three or more hours, until beans are very soft and lentils have disintegrated. (Alternatively, place hot beans/lentils in a crockpot and cook for 5 or 6 hours.)
Add lemon zest and juice, garlic, spices, and olive oil and mix thoroughly to combine. Mix most of the chopped parsley into the ful, saving some to scatter on top as a garnish. Serve in bowls with optional garnishes and mix-ins.