Thursday, July 26, 2012

Foul/Ful - Egyptian Fava Bean Dip

Foul/Ful, pronounced as Fool, is an ancient middle-eastern dish, which I fell head over heals in love with, after coming to Saudi Arabia. This dish is prepared from Fava Beans aka. Broad Beans. This is staple food in Egypt and is equally popular in Saudi Arabia along with Jordan, Syria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia etc. Prepared in various versions using lemon, garlic, sumac, cumin, green chillies, tomatoes, onion and olive oil, there are so many combinations of preparing this dish, some prefer it chunky I on otherhand, prefer it smooth and buttery. In Syria this dish is prepared using special Aleppo pepper and tahini (sesame seed paste).

There is this place in Riyadh which is very popular for its Afghani Foul, P mentioned it many times when I was just new in Riyadh, come next weekend and he brought this heavenly dish called foul (I know I used to get a kick out of it just hearing it, it made me think of something which would be very silly to eat) along with khubz (pita) and hummus for breakfast and I have to admit Foul rocked my world, it has such a lovely taste, texture and flavour that I just couldn't stop licking my plate clean after finishing.

It is said that foul is the dish of Pharoahs and I say Amen. Mentionable quantities of fava beans have been found in Egyptian Tombs. This beans are mentioned not only in Bible but also in other ancient texts, what more can be said about this beans?! Not to forget the lovely nutritional value they provide other than being food for Pharoahs.

So as I said some prefer chunky kinda foul but I prefer smooth and buttery texture which is the way it is prepared in that Riyadh's famous Afghani foul shop, so here goes the recipe.


1 cup medium sized Egyptian Fava Beans (dry, overnight soak in water along with 2 pinches of soda-bicarb)
6 tbs olive oil, I used extra virgin.
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin powder
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tbs tomato paste, you can used fresh tomatoes too, 2-3 medium sized and skin removed would suffice.
Salt to taste

For garnish:
2-3 tbs lemon juice
chopped onions, tomatoes and/or hard boiled egg chopped finely.
Olive oil.


Soak beans overnight in water along with 2 pinches of soda-bicarb, in the morning drain them and wash them with plain water. Pressure cook beans in plain water for upto 8-10 whistles, these beans are bigger than any other usual beans so it takes time for them to get well cooked. Remember we want a very well cooked bean, cooked to a point that its skin is a bit torn and bean itself is mushy.

Drain the beans and reserve the water, it shall be used in cooking later. Let the cooked beans cool off a bit and then start removing their skin, its very easy as we have cooked them to a mushy point, just one pinch and the bean shall pop out.

Using a blender, make a puree of the beans.

In a heavy bottom pan add 1 tbs olive oil and garlic and fry for 10 seconds on medium heat, add beans puree and all other ingredients mentioned above along with olive oil. It is important to add olive oil only after adding puree to the heated pan because we want the flavour of olive oil to stay intact. Add around 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water.
Let this simmer over a low heat for around 30-45 mins. The more this simmers, dish will have more intense flavours. Keep adjusting the consistency of this dish by adding a bit more water if you want as simmer vapourises water and beans puree does have tendency to thicken quite a bit. (I ended up adding 2 1/4 cups of water in all)

Turn off the heat and ladle it into a bowl, garnish it with dash of lemon juice, chopped onions, tomatoes or grated or chopped hard boiled egg.
Serve it with Pita or khubz.

I prefer my foul with a dash of olive oil, a dash of lemon juice and chopped onions on side.

Soaking beans in soda bicarb water is a must. But remember to cook the beans in plain water after thorough wash.