Ful Medames

Summary: This is the traditional recipe for Egyptian brown fava beans. They are the epitome of comfort food- hearty, flavorful and they'll stick to your ribs. This is my very slight adaptation of Claudia Roden's recipe.
*Claudia tells us that salt prevents softening in legumes and this is why you only add the salt once the beans have begun to soften. She serves her ful gently crushed with ground cumin in addition to the other spices and herbs.

Yield: serves 6


  • 2 cups dried, small Egyptian fava beans, soaked overnight (left unpeeled)
  • salt
  • ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • crushed red pepper flakes


In a 4-quart pot, or the like, put the two cups of dried beans, and then add enough cold water to cover the beans for 2". Optimally you'll soak these overnight, but I have also had good luck starting early on the day I'll eat them (soaking starting at 8am for a 7mp meal, for ex).

After their soak, drain the beans, rinse them in cold water and return them to the pot. Fill with cold water, again covering the beans by 2", cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, and set the lid askew so that there's a slight gap from which steam can emerge. Gently simmer for 2 - 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

After an hour or a bit more, feel one bean; if it's starting to soften, add a teaspoon of salt and stir to combine. If it's not yet soft, wait and test again later.*

Once some of the beans are starting to come apart, after 2 hours or so, add the juice of ½ lemon, the parsley, a good glug of olive oil (1/8 c or more), the mashed garlic cloves and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes.

Let cook another 20-30 minutes on low heat, and check the seasoning. Salt and/or more lemon if you like. Serve warm with pita, olive oil and the remaining lemon.