OK, so I know somebody is going to protest about the inauthenticity of this. And the photo doesn’t help. Ful Medames is an Egyptian dish made with ful, which are fava beans or broad beans. I make a version with fresh broad beans often in late winter or spring when they are in season and it is much more photogenic. But the strong lemon/garlic/pepper kind of flavours of ful medames work with practically any kind of beans. I’ve made this often with dried purple king beans or rattlesnake beans, which yields a much nicer looking light pinky-brown bean dip. But this one is a real fusion – a middle Eastern dish using American black turtle beans.
I harvested the last of the turtle beans this week. They were pretty dry on the bush, but we had the wood stove going and it was real bean eating weather so rather than dry them all the way for storage, I cooked them straight away in my favourite bean dish of all. The flavours are amazing – a whole bowl of beans for dinner and you scrape the bottom of the bean bowl. On this occasion with sourdough flatbread with poppy seeds and crushed linseeds to scoop with.
- First soak and cook a cup of dried beans (or if you start with semi-dried beans like I did, a cup and a half). Bean Basics has the basic method for this. Soak them overnight or for a few hours, then pressure cook for 15 minutes or boil for about 45 minutes or cook them in a slow cooker for 5 or 6 hours. Reduce to half beans half water consistency. For this recipe, you want beans that are very soft.
- Fry a chopped onion gently in olive oil till soft.
- Crush or chop a whole corm of garlic (yes, lots!). Add to the onions.
- Crush or grind a whole dessertspoon of black pepper (yes, lots!) and add that too.
- Add salt to taste. Start with a scant half a teaspoon, but you will probably end up adding more.
- Add the beans. Simmer gently, stirring often, for about half an hour. The beans should break up but if you need to you can help them a bit with an eggbeater or a stick blender. You can make it into a smooth puree if you like – I like it better with some whole or mashed beans in it.
- Add a third of a cup of lemon juice. Taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice – you will probably add more of both.
Serve in bowls with pita bread or flatbread to dip.