Why It Works
- Toasting cumin seeds, then mashing them with garlic and chile flakes in a mortar and pestle releases maximum flavor.
- Replacing some of the bean broth with olive oil makes for an intense grassy and pungent base for an abundance of spices and garlic.
Ful medames, or stewed fava beans, is a staple dish all over the Levant where it is often served for breakfast. Some versions, like the tahini-enriched Cairo-style ful preferred by my Egyptian friend Alex, are mild-mannered and comforting. His father Tarek, however, makes a version that is rich and full-flavored.
Tarek doesn't use much of the canned bean liquid to make his ful; he prefers to drown his beans in olive oil, then adds, in his son's words, "too much garlic, too much lemon, and too much cumin." That over-abundance of olive oil—use a decent one you don't mind using too much of, like the peppery stuff in bulk glass jugs from Lebanon—makes for a ridiculously intense-tasting ful, bolstering the favas' natural grassiness and adding incredible richness to the broth.
As long as we're gilding the lily, I like this kind of ful pretty spicy, so in addition to extra cumin I throw in a small handful of chile flakes. (Harissa or shatta would work nicely here, too.) Just don't skimp on the lemon to cut through all the fat and heat.
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, freshly toasted
2 teaspoons chile flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans fava beans
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon tahini
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice from 2 lemons, or more to taste
Put garlic cloves, cumin seeds, chile flakes, and a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle and crush until seeds are cracked and garlic is in small, flimsy chunks. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, mince garlic very fine.
Empty one can of fava beans (with liquid) into a medium saucepan; drain second can and add additional beans, garlic paste, olive oil, and tahini. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until liquid retains some brothiness but turns thick and sauce-like, about 5 minutes.
Add lemon juice and salt to taste. If desired, mash one third of beans with a potato masher for a thicker stew, or mash all beans for a rich dip. Serve with additional olive oil at the table.
Mortar and pestle (optional)
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 44g||56%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 37g||13%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||35%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 7mg||34%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|