Classic Ful Medames

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The Suez Canal opened in 1869 and in one fell swoop reduced the journey to India by half — the arduous half, in fact, since there was no longer any need to travel via the Cape of Good Hope. While the Mongolia is in dock, and her crew prepare for the onward journey to Aden (some 1,310 nautical miles), Fogg remains in his cabin and waits to be served. My favourite Egyptian dish is ful medames, again introduced to me by Andy Harris. Very simple, very ancient, and vastly popular, it is made with slow-cooked dried fava beans and is traditionally eaten at breakfast, though it’s filling enough for lunch or supper.

Ingredients

  • 700g/lb dried fava beans or dried broad beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 55ml/2fl oz extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Drain the beans and put them into a large pan. Cover with fresh cold water, bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for about 1 hour.

Drain the beans again, and discard the cooking liquid. Place your cooked beans in a bowl, add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and cumin and combine well. Season with salt and pepper if it needs it, and serve each portion topped with a boiled egg, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, and garnished with the red onion and parsley. Egyptians commonly mash everything together with a fork or a spoon and use flatbread as a scoop for eating.

To serve

  • 1 fresh egg per person, boiled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Flatbreads, gently warmed through
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