Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Egyptian Foul (sounds like "fool")

Sometime last year I learned to make a delicious middle-eastern dish called Foul. Full name - Foul Mudammas. It is a fava bean stew, and my Egyptian friends traditionally eat it for breakfast. It's fairly simple and quick to prepare and the result is a hearty, aromatic, protein-packed snack or even a full meal.

I find cans of fava beans at my local middle-eastern market for only 79 cents a can, but I believe they can be found in the foreign/exotic section of most supermarkets. It is traditionally eaten by hand with toasted or warmed pita bread...

Here is the recipe:
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 15 oz. can Fava Beans
2 tspn. ground cumin
1/4 cup Italian Parsley, minced
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
1 lemon
a dash of sea salt* optional

pita bread (most brands are vegan - check the label)

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a small pot, then add onions and cook 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook til lightly browned and onions are translucent. Open the can of fava beans and pour out 1/3 of the liquid. Add the beans and remaining liquid to the pot. Put half of the parsley in the pot and cover - bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take the lid off and boil uncovered for a few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. (personal preference varies over how soupy or chunky foul should be - I like mine with most of the liquid gone) At this point stir in the cumin and then turn off the heat. Using a fork or masher, mash roughly 2/3 of the beans in the pot. Add some more olive oil, most of the remaining parsley, juice from half of the lemon, add the tomatoes and mix together in the pot. Add the remaining olive oil and parsley on top along with some more lemon juice, and you are done!

Transfer to a bowl, add a dash of sea salt if you wish, and keep a lemon wedge on hand to squeeze on top as you like. Toast your pita bread and enjoy!

A humorous side note: My good friend Omar taught me how to prepare Egyptian Foul. After I started making it on my own I would tease him about how good mine was, and after some playful jabbing back and forth we decided to have a "Foul-Off." A classic teacher vs. pupil matchup in the kitchen. April was just around the corner, so we naturally we settled on April Fool's Day!
We found a panel of judges - two middle-eastern dudes with plenty of Foul experience and one American girl who had lived in Egypt. The mood was festive and the kitchen was smelling good. After a long, drawn out nail-biter at the judge's table, the results were in: I smoked his ass! We all had a good laugh and mine will forever be known as "award-winning Foul."


  1. I've never heard of this dish before nor have I used fava beans. I'll have to try this one out. thanks for posting.

  2. For sure! It's a great go-to snack or lunch. I can't quite get into having it for breakfast, which is when my Egyptian pal usually eats it. Hope you enjoy...

  3. Yum, I love foul! I ate this all the time growing up but a lot of the Middle Eastern restaurants here in the states don't serve it... I love it when I find one that does. I will have to give your recipe a whirl.

  4. Found this recipe while searching for foul on google. I made it last night and all my friends loved it. It is delicious. Thanks.

  5. What's funny is that foul is totally the "poor man's food" in Egypt, which is why Egyptian or Arab American restaurants in the US don't serve it. Nevertheless, it's my go-to breakfast - ALWAYS! Great recipe - thank you!

  6. I went to Egypt over 25 years ago. I learned to love this morning "soup" and have wanted the recipe for a long time. Thanks...one problem, where do I get fava beans?? Local grocery stores are not helping...I'm trying it with white beans.

    Terri Lynne

  7. Any organic market should have them. Granted, they were $2.49 a can here, and the only ones I could find were organic. There is also the dried version, but you have to shell them. Nobody has time for that! ;)

  8. A Great Recipe. Anonymous above is right—this ubiquitous south ME staple is not often served in ME restaurants. I would assume they don't feel they could justify a worthwhile cover for the lowliest meal of beans. Come to think of it, the great American baked bean—so common at picnics/cookout is also a rare sight in all but the most down home restaurants. You can find hot dog vendors, but where are the baked bean vendors?

  9. Great recipe. My relatives make this dish all the time. Wondering if you should put the cumin in early with the beans so it can cook with the beans? Also have seen some folks eat the stuff with sour cream. Love the fact you add lemon..must tell my relatives about that.

  10. Fantastic. Had this years ago in Egypt and wanted to try recreating it with home grown broad beans. Top man Rockin Vegan.