Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans)

Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans)

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
310 Calories
14g Fat
34g Carbs
13g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 310
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 412mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 9g 33%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 471mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Most of us are probably not used to thinking about an ingredient like beans for breakfast. And dishes made with garlic and spices would be even less commonly found on our morning menus. But in Egypt, fava beans have been a popular breakfast dish (called ful medames) dating back to ancient times. It is usually served with a fried egg and pita bread, which is great for scooping up the fava beans.

Fava beans, also commonly called broad beans (the word fava actually means broad in Italian), were cultivated in the Middle East for 8,000 years before they spread to Europe. Evidence of them has been found among the relics of the earliest human civilizations and inside Egyptian tombs.

Although the fava beans, with their kidney shape, look a lot like lima beans (butter beans), they remain firmer when cooked and actually have a stronger flavor. They also have two skins that must be peeled. You can break open the outer pod and remove the beans the same way you do with peas. But then the beans need a quick steam or boil to soften the inner membrane so it can be peeled as well.

In addition to its popularity in Egypt, ful medames is also frequently found in the cuisines of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Israel, and Jordan, among a handful of others. Each country and region is likely to have a slightly different version of the dish. In Syrian cuisine, for example, the beans would be slow cooking in a large vat overnight and then be added to the olive oil and large amounts of tahini and red pepper paste. Ethiopians are likely to eat the ful with injera (a pancake-like bread) instead of pita.

This recipe calls for dried fava beans because those are likely to be the most commonly found. But if you have a gourmet produce market near you, they might have fresh fava beans. Simply remove the beans from the pod, cook them for a couple of minutes in boiling water, drain, and peel off the skins.


  • 1 1/2 pounds dried fava beans, or broad beans

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • Tomato, diced, for serving, optional

  • Parsley, for serving, optional

  • Olive oil, for serving, optional

  • Pita bread, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans) ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Soak the fava beans overnight in a large bowl of water.

    Soak the fava beans overnight in a large bowl of water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Drain the beans, add them to a large saucepan and cover them with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer on low for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are tender.

    beans in a pot of water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Drain and place in a medium bowl. Add the crushed garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and cumin and toss well to combine and coat. It's common to mash the beans together with the other ingredients but you can also leave them whole and well mixed.

    Add the crushed garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and cumin to the beans

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Serve hot and topped with diced tomato, parsley, a drizzle of oil, and pita bread.

    Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans) in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • Don't have time to make ful yourself? Buy it ready made. Ful is actually sold pre-made in cans in many Middle Eastern and specialty grocery stores.

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