This my friends, is a gorgeous dish, a gastronomical work of art. No, not to look at, but the taste? Like the used to death New York Italian expression, “foggetaboudit!”. This is something else.
Quick school lesson.
Ful (also commonly transliterated as “fool”), is the transliteration of the Arabic word for Fava Beans, also known as Broad beans. Wikipedia also claims that this dish has roots going back all the way to Pharaonic Egypt. The recipe I provide here is the one consumed in the Levantine which I find more suited to my taste. There are several spins on this great dish and they are ALL brilliant, in my humble opinion of course.
- 1 can of Fava beans
- 1 can of Chick peas
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 50 grams of “more than roughly” chopped Cilantro
- 1/4 cup of water
- Olive oil to be available for when its time to eat
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
(some items are not shown in the picture)
Prepare the chopped Cilantro first. In colloquial Arabic, the bunch is referred to as a “bouquet”. Grab one third of the bouquet, stalks and all, wash it, then chop it more than roughly but you don’t have to go all out with your ninja skillz on it. Three or four quick passes with the knife after the initial chop should be fine. Now, plate the cilantro for when you need it later on.
Heat a pot on a medium heat and as it is warming up (we’re talking 1 minute here), pour the 1/3 cup of water and give it 30 seconds or so to warm up. Dump all of the Fava beans and about 2/3 of the chick peas, keeping the remaining for later.
While that is heating up, take the opportunity to pound those cloves of Garlic. In theory, you can chop the Garlic, but I find that grinding it into paste is much more pleasing to the palate. Besides, as much as I love Garlic, its unpleasant to suddenly chomp into one. Feel free to add more Garlic if your tastes so take you 🙂
In a mortar, throw in the cloves with 1 tablespoon of salt then pound it with a pestle until it is nice and paste like. The salt really helps in this by acting as an abrasive and it also makes the oils in the Garlic more pungent and savory.
Having said that, you really don’t want to air the Garlic for long, so, into the pot with it along with the now simmering beans. See?
Add the Lemon juice into the mix and with the same pestle that you used to righteously pasted those cloves of Garlic, begin the process of righteously mashing the beans in the pot. Shouldn’t take you more than a minute. The carbohydrates will soak up the water but you don’t want it to become too dry. The mix in the pot should to the eye have a the look of the consistency of porridge but when the pot tilts it should move around a bit more thickly than porridge. If you feel you have to add a wee bit more of water, that’s OK, you just want to wait a minute so that everything is warmed up again.
Cilantro. The remaining 1/3 of the Chick peas [Thank you Manfred Bihy for pointing out that I forgot to mention what happened to them!]. Quick mix until the Cilantro is incorporated. Taste to make sure that you don’t need to add any more salt or lemon juice.
Brilliant! Spoon into a deep bowl then cover with Olive oil. Seriously, you need several tablespoons worth, 3 at least. My dad considers this dish as an excuse to consume Olive oil in quantity. Extra Virgin Olive Oil please.
Sliced Tomatoes and Olives as side dishes, rich sweet tea is the drink that must accompany this dish. This is the best weekend breakfast you can have. Oh, and you should eat this with pita bread, ripping the bread into triangular shapes, folding them into pockets and scooping all that awesome flavor into your mouth.