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! :)