Ful of Flavor
As divulged in previous blogs, legumes are power-packed nuggets full of fiber and nutrients, used as a staple in many of our favorite Taza dishes. In particular, we’d like to take some time to focus on all of the scrumptious properties that go into our beloved Ful Fava Beans. By the end of this short article, we’re certain you’ll be asking: “Oh Ful, where have you bean all my life?”
Fava beans have long served as a principle part of world diets, dating back just about as long as humans can recall. In fact, favas are one of the oldest domesticated beans in existence. Their popularity shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, though, given that many societies have put an emphasis on finding foods that equally satisfy one’s appetite and wallet. In ancient times, when most people were vegetarians by practice and not by choice, the proteins from these types of beans sustained them through lives of hard labor. Egyptian historians even recount that fava beans were dined on by the Pharaohs. Eat anything long enough and we begin to grow comfortable with infinite consumption, in addition to the traditions they create.
So, how are fava beans cooked? After stewing at a low temperature for a long period of time, they begin to form into the basis for one of our most popular menu dishes: Ful – a traditional Egyptian food eaten for breakfast or lunch. This flavorful Mediterranean delicacy has transformed over the years into a robust number of worldly culinary combinations, relying on a variety of toppings and additives. At its most basic, Ful may even be mistaken for a variation of hummus. However, there are quite a few ways to elevate Ful into a full vegan meal, far distinguishable from that of the cherished chickpea spread.
The basic ingredients of Ful, other than beans, include oil or butter and cumin (Ka’moon, in Arabic). Moreover, common additions include tomatoes, red lentils, garlic and onions. As with most recipes, there are multiple suggestions for methods of preparation (and we certainly have some secrets of our own). Most approaches will recommend roasting and crushing the cumin and garlic, then adding vegetables of one type or another to provide a perfect compliment.
Ful is oftentimes served as a street food, in restaurants, or at most traditional Egyptian dinner tables. Of the large range of beans in the fava family, bath beans are most commonly used for Ful. The name of this small, red-tinted legume is a result of the Middle Ages, when fires were constantly used to stoke the communal baths. A few clever multi-taskers opted to use the coals to bury pots of dried beans covered in water to slowly cook their meals. And there we have it, fava bath beans were born.
For those of you who wish to go cutlery-free, dishes like Ful are perfect for eating with pita bread, even though the meal itself happens to be gluten-free! A one-dish vegan meal, it thankfully contains lots of protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to help satisfy those New Year’s health resolutions. People may conflict over how to best prepare and serve Ful, but few would dispute its place in a nutritious and delicious diet. New year, new foods, new opportunities to #EatLikeAnEgyptian. Now that’s cool beans, if you ask us.