Ful Medames

The Vegetarian's Guide To The World

Forking Off

Ful Medames

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 400g Red Kidney Beans
  • 400g Butter Beans
  • 4 Tomatoes, roughly quartered
  • 1 Large Onion, cut into coarse chunks
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Tahini
  • 2-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper


To Garnish:

  • Basil Leaves
  • Diced Tomatoes

Some times Ful Medames is served blended/mashed into a thick soup or a paste like hummus, personally I prefer it with a bit of chunk. That's how I had it on a felucca fishing boat on the Nile, before sitting up on the deck all night with a dashing, dusky Nubian named Bassam, but that's another story...


So, on with the show:


1. As you can see in the pitcure to the left, if you're doing this properly you're doing it in one pot on a camping stove. Dead easy. First off, put both kinds of beans, your tomato quarters and onion in a pan and heat until the onion goes clear. Keep a lid on it so that the moisture doesn't escape too much.


2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir it all round, seasoning to taste.


3. Crush the beans lightly with a fork, don't mash them completely (unless that's what you're going for), but release the flavours.


4. Garnish with chopped tomato and a few leaves of basil.


Serve with Egyptian feta, or for vegans; a tomato salad made with pine nuts, basil and olive oil. Use your pita bread as both your cutlery and your plate!

The real deal - served with Egyptian feta and warm bread

Ful Medames is a dish that originates in the Nubian areas of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. It is a traditional peasant food (peasant food is always the best veggie food) and is usually made with fava beans. Unfortunately they're a pain in the nethers in Britain so it depends how keen you are on authenticity as to whether you want to use them. You can buy bags on the internet (who knew?) if you're feeling keen, but you'll need to soak them for about 8 hours and cook them for 2. Alternately of course, butter beans taste pretty much exactly the same and you can get a can in the supermarket for a quid; you see where I'm going with this. My biggest umbridge with butter beans is how insipid the colour is though. Fava beans are a lovely rich brown, whereas if you make Ful Medames with just butter beans it looks like a pile of beige slop. As a result I like to play fast and loose with the recipe and use 50/50 butter and kidney beans. 'A meal should be a picture,' my Grandma always said.