Friday, March 02, 2007

Ful Mudamas


On a visit to one of my favorite spice shops, I spotted a bunch of interesting looking dried beans. Not one to pass on a chance of trying new legumes (I love them in all forms – soups, stews, dips, salads…), I bought myself a small portion on which to experiment. Off I went, as merrily as Jack with his newly acquired bag of magic beans, imagining how I was going to use them.

Before deciding where these beans would be best suited, I had to see what they tasted like, right? So I stuck them in a pot, boiled them until soft, and gingerly popped one in my mouth. Mmmm….the taste was familiar, pulling at my memory gently but insistently. I knew then what these beans were destined for…fuul (Ful Mudamas).

I first tried this Egyptian fava bean dip/spread on my trip to Egypt. Hailed as the national breakfast of Egypt, it was an immediate favorite and I had it several times while I was there. The recipe I used was from Megwoo of the fantastic (and close to my bacon-loving heart) blog I heart Bacon. She left a comment on my post about my first meal in Egypt (which included fuul) and a link to a recipe for fuul. I liked the sound of it because, among all the recipes that I found, it had the most spices in it. Yes, trust a non-professional cook like me to ignore quantities and chemistry, and base decisions on reasons like, “It has the most stuff in it!

Turns out, despite my greedy, spice-grubbing mind, I didn’t have all the spices to complete the recipe (for shame Joey!). What I did have though was baharat that I had bought on my trip to Egypt. A baharat is an Arabic spice blend (the word baharat actually means “spices” in Arabic) in the same manner as masala in India. There are many different types of baharat depending on its country of origin. You can find these used in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and countries in the northern part of Africa. There is also a Saudi baharat, a Kuwaiti baharat, and a Yemeni baharat. You can also find Turkish and even Tunisian baharat. Traditionally, baharat, even if from the same place, would differ from purveyor to purveyor, or household to household. This aromatic blend usually includes spices like black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and coriander. Between countries you can have additions of saffron, loumi (ground lime), nutmeg, cardamom, dried rose petals, allspice, ginger, caraway seeds, and turmeric. Doesn’t it all sound so amazing? Like some sort of delicious potion for enchantment?

As both fuul and my baharat are from Egypt, I felt fully justified in substituting all the spices in the recipe for a tablespoon-full of the baharat. Everything else remained the same except I didn’t add the potato (you can find the full recipe here). One bite of this was a whiff of my Egyptian adventure…the smells of the spice markets, careening wildly through traffic, my first sight of the pyramids, cruising lazily down the Nile. It was bursting with both flavor and memories. It came out a bit too dry though and I am thinking of adding a little more tomato and oil next time, or maybe some tahini (sesame paste), which I have seen included in other recipes.

I have another bag of fava beans waiting to be used so this will soon be getting a second run…perhaps I can plan a little reunion for my fearless Egypt-partners…
Until then...happy weekend! :)

19 comments:

Barbara said...

I have made Ful Mesdames,a fava bean salad, for an Egyptian meal after reading Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant. Your ful mudamas is another step I have yet to try. Currently I'm reading her latest book Return to Paris.

Socky said...

I am learning so many things from you, Joey. You're always a great read. And, as I told Kat, your blog is one of the best-written.

katrina said...

This looks delicious, Joey! I love bean dips/spreads too. What is the traditional thing to eat with this, pita?

Socky, by Kat, did you mean me? Because I fully agree! I've told Felipe that although I enjoy reading about food on any blog, yours is one of my favorites because of your delightful "voice."

Socky said...

Hi, Katrina. I was referring to a Katrice, an officemate (our CD). But I'm glad you agree.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Barbara! That salad sounds great! Apricots on the Nile sounds like my kind of book...I love "food memoirs" :) I'll check it out!

Hi Socky! Excuse me while I get my smelling salts! That is high praise indeed and I am beet red right now with the pleasure of it!!! :) Thank you so much!

Hi Katrina! For breakfast in Egypt it is sometimes eaten with eggs. It is also served with pickled vegetables called torshi. All over the streets of Cairo though they do serve it spooned in the pocket of a pita :) Thank you for your sweet compliment! I am blushing here :)

Marketmanila said...

Joey, this is TOO WEIRD! I just got back from the beach and experimented with a lima bean spread for no reason at all other than there were lima beans at the market! Then I get home and Katrina leaves a comment on marketmanila about Queso de Bola Toasts so I try to make some only to see a recent link from The Scent of Green Bananas on the same item! Yikes, there is serious deja vu in the air...nice to know people are eating whats freshest... or oldest (QdB)in their fridges! I also passed by Jardineros in Tagaytay on your recommendation and got some goodies and a pineapple so I can show you and other readers this neat trick I discovered for easily peeling them... too much going on!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Marketman! Um, you want to hear another weird thing? I just bought some lima beans in the market yesterday "for the sole reason that they were there", so you better have your experimentations posted! Nice to hear you got some goodies at Jardinero's and can't wait to see your way with a pineapple! :) Goodness!

angelika said...

I love the sound of this post(ok, have I ever NOT loved a sound of any of your posts ?) since I am so much in Arabic spice mixtures at the moment, even with a kitchen at hand. It's so addictive. Thank you for sharing !

Paz said...

Oh, so delicious! I haven't made ful in a long time and you've inspired me to do so. I've been saving your other recipe from Egypt with the lamb. Have been meaning to make that for a long time now. *sigh* so many recipes and so little time.

Paz

Mae said...

I've never heard of this dip before. Thanks for educating me about baharat too! I love the sound of the mixed spices... rose petal included.

I've hinted to Ian about us going to Egypt 'so he could go diving in the red sea'... and i could go shopping!!! lol.

I'm dreaming of your Ful Mesdames...

Mae

ChichaJo said...

Hi Angelika! Thank you :) I love love love all these spice mixes...their smell alone has the power to transport. It's no wonder that nations sent envoys halfway across the world to obtain them!

Hi Paz! Thanks! This was a first for me :) I know what you mean, I have so many recipes bookmarked...and the list grows everyday!

Hi Mae! I hope you do get to go to Egypt! You will have an adventure :) And go nuts of the spice markets...all the sights and smells! I had a blast!

christine said...

Oohhh the post I've been waiting for! That was genius of you to subsitute it with the baharat. And the idea of adding cardamom sounds divine. I think upping the amount of olive oil and lemon juice will improve the consistency - the two ingredients I use to improve the consistency of hummus and bana ghanoush too. So it should work on that no?

YOYO said...

YUMMY!

i love delicisous ~ i like cooking~

welcome to my home~

http://blog.sina.com.cn/yoyolove

veron said...

Sounds like a perfect appetizer and uniquely so than having the ubiquitous hummus. Can't wait to toast some pita bread and dip it into this yummy looking concoction.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nens! Thanks for the tip! What works for your hummus and bana ghanoush should word for this too...

Hi Yoyo! Thanks :)

Hi Veron! Thank you! :) Yes, it's a nice change from hummus...love these bean dips, and with warm pita it would be perfect!

Mila Tan said...

Here's an idea: dip party. Everyone make a different bean dip, cheese dip, salsa and bring it to the party, the host provides the toast, crudites, and whatever else that would go well.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mila! I'm all for that idea! :)

Socky said...

Mila's idea sounds great: a dip party! How about one for Poch's despedida party? You guys bring the dips, I provide the wines and the venue!

Yup, Poch and Rama are going back to Canada on April 8 :-(

ChichaJo said...

Hi Socky! Can do!!! :) Just say when and where :) (Aw! We will miss them too!)