I thought I’d offer you something completely different from the holiday fare you’ve been eating for days or even weeks now. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas and leftovers from both, there are often a lot of redundancies in food and what better way to shift your focus from sweet potatoes and ham then to travel to Lebanon for some traditional Foul.
Foul, pronounced: fool, is a hearty, garlicky fava bean and chickpea dish saturated in blessed olive oil (yes, I know it’s ugly). There are many variations and recipes, but Foul traditionally hails from Egypt. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and is often eaten scooped out of a bowl with flatbread for breakfast with yogurt, cheese or a fried egg on top. Be prepared for some messily oily and herby fingers.
The idea of making foul has danced around the back of my mind for sometime now and for whatever reason I never got around to making it. I was finally inspired to make foul after reading Annia Ciezadlo’s beautifully and poignantly written memoir of living as a journalist in the Middle East, Day of Honey. I highly recommend this book. If your even mildly curious about the people, food and culture of places like Beirut and Lebanon then buy this book. Annia offers a very intimate glimpse into a world few of us understand. A world devoted to family and tradition and often disrupted and molded by war and politics. She also includes recipes gleaned from the beautiful people and families she grew to know and love. I’ve started with Foul Mdamas and I intend to explore the others. I promise to share.
Find the book, sit down with a cup a tea, and read.
PS I’m playing with my layout today and I’d love to know what you think. I know a few of you (Liz!) skip my writings and go straight to the photos so I thought I’d present pictures first, words and recipes second. Please let me know what you think!
Abu Haidi’s Foul Mdamas with Herbed Flatbread
From Day of Honey, Annia Ciezadlo
Annia recommends using the small, dried Egyptian fava beans that are no bigger than a black bean. I used dried fava beans found at Whole Foods, and they worked fine. Although, I suspect Egyptian fava beans would offer a more delicate flavor. A trip to the Halal store may be in order. Darn :)
For the Foul~
What you’ll need:
1 cup dried fava beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
2/3 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
1-teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
Juice from one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Optional adornments: fried egg, peppers, yogurt, chopped tomatoes
After the beans are cooked, place in them in two separate small saucepans with about a 1/2-inch of water. Bring to a simmer.
Place smashed garlic and sea salt in a large bowl and use a pestle to smash them into a paste.
Pour half of the lemon juice over the garlic and let sit for about 10 minutes. If you want mellower garlic, let sit for longer.
Ladle all of the fava beans and half of the chickpeas into your bowl with a bit of the cooking liquid.
Using your pestle, mash some of the beans with the garlic.
Pour in half of the olive oil and salt to taste.
Make a well in the middle of the beans and add the rest of the chickpeas.
Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice and dust with cumin and paprika adding more to taste.
Serve with flatbread.
From Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
For the flatbread~
What you’ll need:
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup amaranth flour
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1-tablespoon kosher salt
Olive oil for brushing
Dried herbs of your choice. I used oregano, thyme and tarragon.
Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil.
In another bowl add honey and yeast to 1 1/2 cups warm water.
Stir and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Add the flours and salt to the yeast and stir to combine.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
Form the dough into a ball and place in your oiled bowl.
Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size. About 2 hours.
Place dough onto your lightly floured surface and fold it into itself a few times as you deflate any gas bubbles.
Form the dough into a ball, cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour and a half.
Warm a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Place the dough on you floured work surface and divide into eight equal parts.
Gently roll out each dough, one at a time, into a circle that will comfortable fit in your pan.
Brush the top with olive oil and dust with herbs and salt.
Transfer the dough to your hot pan, oil side down and let grill for about 3 minutes.
While it’s grilling, brush the other side with olive oil.
Flip and cook the second side for about 3 minutes.
Place the cooked flatbread on a baking rack or plate and repeat the above instructions with the other balls of dough.