Recipe 20 min (plus overnight soaking time)Preparation Time 2 hoursCooking Time


20 min (plus overnight soaking time)Preparation Time 2 hours Cooking Time

About this Recipe

Fava bean stew, ful (also known as ful medames) is popular as both a breakfast staple and a dinner entrée in the Middle East. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants serve the best kinds, as they slow-cook the stew the traditional way over embers all night (and day). In Saudi Arabia, ful is eaten with a big, round, sesame-dusted Afghan bread called tameez. The shops serving both are often side-by-side and you get a delicious, filling meal for two for under a dollar. Growing up in the country in the ’90s, ful-tameez was a regular on the dastarkhwan (table spread). At home in India, we often recreate these memories and flavors with red kidney beans instead of favas, and since we haven't been enterprising enough to knead up a tameez, we simply enjoy it with pita. 

The Benefits

Rich in plant protein and high in manganese, dried fava beans are a great bone and muscle food. They also contain folate, essential for producing new cells. Remember to always soak dried the legumes for 8 to 10 hours to optimize the bioavailability of nutrients. Tomatoes and the spices in the stew up the antioxidant quotient of your meal.


Serves 4
  • 2 cups (450 g) small dried fava beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
  • 1 Tbsp (15 g) salt plus to taste
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 4 or 5 (16 g) garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (about 7 oz / 200 g) tomatoes, puréed (chop the tomatoes and blend until smooth)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp freshly ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chile powder
  • Sliced onions for garnish
  • Chopped tomatoes for garnish
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Step 1
    Put the beans in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Keep the water on a simmer over gentle heat until the beans are tender. Depending on the quality and age of the beans, this could take 2 to 2½ hours; add water as needed to keep the beans covered. Add 1 Tbsp salt to the water once the beans are soft. (Alternatively, cook the beans in a stovetop pressure cooker with 2L of water. Stir in 1 Tbsp salt and close the lid. Set the heat to high and wait for the first whistle, which should take about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the beans at full pressure for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to cool down and release pressure naturally.) Strain the beans, saving 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
  2. Step 2
    Set aside 2 Tbsp (40 g) of the cooked beans. Smash with a potato masher or purée the rest (this can be done in a food processor in a couple of batches), depending on your preference for a smooth or chunky ful. Use the reserved water, a spoonful at a time, to adjust the consistency as desired.
  3. Step 3
    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until just hot and add the minced garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon so the garlic doesn’t burn, and add the tomato purée. Continue to cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Once the tomato puree changes to a deeper red, turn the heat to low and add the beans, lemon juice, cumin, and chile powder. Mix well and leave on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and add a spoonful or two of the reserved liquid, if needed, to ensure a creamy texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat.
  4. Step 4
    Spoon a hearty serving in a deep dish, top with plenty of thinly sliced onions and diced tomatoes, fresh parsley, a spoonful of whole cooked beans (reserved earlier), and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Serve hot with pita bread and lemon wedges on the side.

Substitutions: At home (in India), we use rajma (red kidney beans) in place of fava beans, which are a minor crop here. To make up for the quintessential sweetness of the fava beans, we add a soaked date or two when pureeing or smashing the beans.

Level Up: Take things up a notch by smoking your pot of ful. Here’s how: Transfer the bean stew to a casserole with a lid. Line a small plate/bowl with foil and place this over the bean stew. Next, light a piece of charcoal on a high flame. Once the coal is red-hot and grey, using tongs, place it on the foil. Pour a few drops of oil or ghee over the coal and close the casserole. Keep covered for five minutes. Open the lid, discard the foil and charcoal and serve.

Try It With: In Saudi Arabia, ful is eaten with a big round, sesame-crusted Afghani tandoor bread called tameez. The combination is so popular that, the dish is known as Ful-Tameez. You can also enjoy it with pita or any hard, crusty bread preferred for dips.