Spicy Ful Medames (Fava Beans) With Olive Oil and Chile Recipe

Photograph: Max Falkowitz

Why It Works

  • Toasting cumin seeds, then mashing them with garlic and chile flakes in a mortar and pestle releases maximum flavor.
  • Replacing some of the bean broth with olive oil makes for an intense grassy and pungent base for an abundance of spices and garlic.

Ful medames, stewed fava beans, is a staple dish all over the Levant. Some versions are mild-mannered and comforting. This one, loaded with olive oil, lemon, garlic, cumin, and a kick of chile flakes, is anything but. Serve it as a bean stew or mash up the beans and use it as a high octane dip.

Recipe Facts



Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 3 to 4 servings

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  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, freshly toasted
  • 2 teaspoons chile flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans fava beans
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice from 2 lemons, or more to taste


  1. Put garlic cloves, cumin seeds, chile flakes, 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.

  2. Empty one can of fava beans (with liquid) into a medium saucepan; drain second can and add additional beans, garlic paste, olive oil, and tahini. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until liquid retains some brothiness but turns thick and sauce-like, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. If desired, mash one third of beans with a potato masher for a thicker stew, or mash all beans for a rich dip. Serve with additional olive oil at the table.

Special equipment

Mortar and pestle (recommended but not required; see step 1)

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