Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Ful Moudammas (Foul Madames) and a Million More Spelling Variants
Pronounced "fool", and spelled numerous ways, this Egyptian dish makes a great deal of food for very little money. I baked some pita bread to serve with it, though any pliable flat bread would probably be great.
Just as there are numerous spellings, there are numerous recipes where the only common ingredient seems to be dried fava beans-after that, it seems to be a matter of local style and personal tastes. Is this "traditional?" Heck if I know, but probably not.
There was a small Middle Eastern restaurant my husband used to like in Boston that made a version of ful moudammas that he really ejoyed, though it was quite plain. I'm not sure I could see eating this as a breakfast food with a fried egg, but people do. As the recipe makes quite a bit, you'll have plenty of the stuff to try out different ways.
I removed the skins on the fava beans after soaking, but that too is optional-you lose some fibre, but gain a better texture. Your call. Set aside plenty of time for these-the beans should soak at least eight hours (preferably twelve) overnight, and will need an additional two hours of soaking after shelling before you even start the eight hours of cooking. Some recipes go even longer. In the end, your patience will be rewarded with a gigantic pot of slowly simmered fava bean stew that isn't the sort of thing you can walk into any supermarket and buy (though Middle Eastern grocers do sell it in a tin).
You Will Need:
1 lb. dried fava beans (I used rather large ones for this)
3/4 cup red lentils
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
Water to cover
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 but you may prefer an oiler dish)
1 lemon, quartered
Handful chopped fresh parsley
Sort and rinse fava beans. Place in a large bowl and cover with plenty of water (they expand quite a bit). Let soak 8-12 hours.
Drain and rinse fava beans. Remove skins by squeezing-they should pop right out. Cover shelled beans with fresh water and soak another 2 hours. Drain, and rinse.
Place beans in a large heavy pot with the chopped onion, bay leaves, and well rinsed and drained red lentils. Bring to a boil, skim away any foam and then reduce to very low heat. Cover and simmer for about eight hours. Don't keep peeking in the pot or you'll lose the heat. Check it every couple hours and give it a stir, but generally, leave it alone.
When beans are soft and falling apart, drain over a bowl to reserve the liquid. Place the liquid back in the pot, crank up the heat and cook until reduced to 1/4 of the original volume. You'll need to keep stirring so it won't scorch. Turn down the heat if you need to. While that reduces, take a small pan and fry the garlic in the olive oil until soft. Set aside to cool slightly. When the liquid has reduced, stir in the tomato paste, garlic , cumin, oil, pepper, and cayenne. Stir well and return drained beans and lentils to the pot. Mix well. At this point, taste it to see if more salt is needed (it will probably need it). Make adjustments as you see fit. Some people like a bit of paprika stirred in as well.
Cool quickly in a few shallow dishes, before moving to a single container in the fridge. Serve with bread, lemon wedges and a scattering of fresh parsley.