Monday, November 10, 2008

Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

After posting about ful medamas, Egypt's national dish, I've been craving the stuff intensely. On Saturday, I decided to put myself in Abraham's capable hands over at Mediterranean Market on Meadow Street. At the counter, I was greeted by Mus, Abraham's gregarious partner. After describing my favorite Philadelphia food, Mus nodded and pointed at the pictoral menu on the wall. There was a picture of glistening fava beans on a bed of lettuce among the other 20 or so featured dishes (um, I've been meaning to talk to you about the food fotos, dude...).

Mus went on to tell me about how the ful is eaten in Syria and how it is spelled "foul" (um, yeah. I should talk to you about that too...). I described the smooth consistency of the ful beans that I'd grown accustomed to. The diced jalapeno peppers, melted butter topping, and french bread. Mus viewed this description with some suspicion (especially when I told him that it was an Ethiopean interpretation of the Egyptian dish). He urged me to try his version, with olive oil, onions, tomatoes, cumin on top, and a piece of toasted pita bread. Deal. Lemme have it.

While I waited for my dish, I picked up a bag of dried fava beans and a jar of tahini. Mus gave me some advice for cooking my favas.
  1. Soak for 24 hours
  2. Boil for at least an hour with garlic and salt
  3. Put it in the fridge in a sealed tub, still soaking the brine
  4. Take servings out from time to time to make dishes
How long can I leave them in the fridge, two weaks?

"Eh... not quite. Then you'll have to change the - "

Chang the water?

"No, the beans!"

Okay, so I guess I'll be eating quite a few fava bean dishes this week.
The "foul mudammas" dish (as spelled out on their menu) came out and I took it back to my house. On my couch, I opened the foil container and observed the mashed means swimming in olive oil. Soft diced onions were among the beans and tomatoes were sitting on top. The smell of garlic was intense. With plastic fork in one hand and pita bread in the other, I started scooping and chewing my way through the dish. The strong musky flavor of the beans were rivaled by the aromatics and the tough skins of the beans were largly pliable, if not ready to disintergrate. Together with the generous olive oil and the toasty bread, the dish was quite good. It's in a different ball game from the dish I had in Philly, but it's just another take. Mus had never even heard of ful being treated as a breakfast dish. "It's an anytime thing." Street food, he said. Everybody does theirs differently (link to fat free ful bean dish). Speaking of which...

I simmered my beans for a good long while today (pretty pic of boiling beans to come when camera agrees to release said photos). They already taste good. I can't wait to spread them among my menu for the rest of the week. If I try to do them up Abyssinia style, I'll probably saute onions in lots of garlic, with cumin and maybe a little harisa and then add some of the beans and give it a whack with the immersion blender (to smooth it out, but still leave some chunks here and there). The rest is a matter of plating, but the oil/butter and diced pepper topping is going to be about as crucial as an absorbant bread for scooping.

I'm really looking foward to it. Oh, and a nice chianti.

2 comments:

  1. The Silence of the Lambs clip upped the awesomeness points on this one..love that movie. Guess I should ignore the gas this week in our cave...

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  2. Can anyone recommend some fava bean recipes? I've got such a huge pot of garlicky beans in the fridge and I need ideas. Heck. You can have some of these beans if you come by my house with tupperware.

    How about fava bean chili? Hmmm... should be interesting.

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