Hummus is fine, but the real power legume of the Middle East is the fava bean. Ful medames is the Egyptian breakfast dish of favas stewed with tahini and seasoned with garlic, cumin, and lemon. This creamy, comforting version is much like what you'll find around the streets of Cairo. For a full meal, toast up some pita, make a little tomato-cucumber salad, and scoop out labne or a soft cheese like Istanbuli.
For a bolder, more intense, and spicy version of ful, try this recipe.
Why this recipe works:
- Toasting cumin seeds, then mashing them with garlic in a mortar and pestle releases maximum flavor.
- Lemon and tahini balance out the fava bean's inherent funk.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, freshly toasted
- Kosher salt
- 2 (15-ounce) cans fava beans
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice from 2 lemons, or more to taste
Put garlic cloves, cumin seeds, 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 fava beans (with liquid) into a medium saucepan and combine with tahini and garlic paste. 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. Mash one third of the beans with a potato masher to thicken if desired, then serve with toasted pita.
Mortar and pestle (recommended but not required; see step 1)