Foul means “fava beans” and is the name of the green fava (foul akhdar), the dried beans, and the dish itself. Foul medamass (seasoned fava) is somewhere between a salad and a stew. It must be very well cooked, until mushy, then seasoned like a salad, served hot, and eaten with bread, onion, mint, and tomato.
Foul is the definite souk food. You would often see the fawwal (foul maker) running in the narrow alleys with a tray full of bowls—one of foul, another of crisp white onion, mint, tomato, radishes, olives, and bread. A perfect meal!
This recipe is from Azza Fahmi, a wonderful jewelry designer who brings ancient Islamic motifs into modern jewelry. The fava beans used here must be brown, round, and small, not the greenish, flat, large beans.
- 3/4 cup (200 g) dried small brown fava beans
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Handful of split yellow lentils (dal)
- 1 lemon plus the juice of 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- Ground cumin
- Kamal Mouzawak
Soak the fava beans in water to cover for 10 hours. Drain and put in a pot. Add the onion halves, the whole garlic cloves, and the lentils. Add enough fresh water to cover by 2 fingers, bring to a boil, and skim the foam that will form at the top. Then lower the heat as much as possible and cook until the beans are very well cooked and mushy. This will take several hours. (Azza has an electric hot plate with a very low temperature, where she leaves her foul to cook overnight.)
When cooked, cut the whole lemon into quarters and add to the pot, and let cook for a further 20 minutes. Take off the fire, add the lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin and salt to taste, and serve hot. It can also be served with a handful of cooked whole chickpeas tossed into it.