Fool

No, I’m not calling you names. Fool is probably the  national dish of Egypt. It’s a spiced fava bean mash that is extremely filling, dirt cheap and enjoyed by all strata of society.

Fool Cart

It’s also the ultimate street food, easily found served up by a fool cart vendor all-throughout Egypt. This is a breakfast food that I still eat about 5 days a week simply because it is so easy to prepare and so filling; not surprising because of the its high fibre content.

The dish can be traced back to the Pharaonic period, with beans being found in tombs as far back as the 12th dynasty. In fact, Ramses the 2nd is said to have made a large offering of fava beans to the God of the Nile.

I’ve heard it being referred to as a “bean dip” by visitors to Egypt, so I suppose one could eat it in that sense, but the only thing I can think of dipping into it is pita bread. Sometimes I use my bread as a scoop to eat the beans, and sometimes I just stuff a pita (mainly when I’m on the go). My Canadian sister-in-law on the other hand likes to eat it with a side of maple syrup, baked bean style.

One thing is for sure, whether it’s ladled from in a tin canister in Egypt, or made in a jiffy at home, fool is one dish that I can’t live without.

A bowl of foul

Although you can make it from the dried beans, my family has not done that in years as it’s simply more convenient to make it from canned beans. The best brand I have found so far in Canada is the Walmart brand sold in Walmart superstores. You’ll find it in the canned beans section. There’s endless ways to change up a bowl of foul, so here’s a basic recipe which you can play around with:

  • 1 can of Fava Beans (Walmart brand is best)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
Simply empty the can into a small pot, liquid and all, on a medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash the beans with a fork or potatoe-masher until you reach the consistency desired; some people prefer a chunkier foul, I like mine nice and smooth.  Heat through and serve with pita.
Change It Up: Stir in some Tahini, saute some onions before adding the beans, add some chopped tomatoes or some parsley, mash a boiled egg into the foul (or poach an egg on the mash). There are endless ways to eat foul!
Did You Know: Cumin relieves gas and bloating and so, aside from the smokey flavour it provides, the spice is often used in Middle-Eastern cooking to fend off any adverse affects of consuming a little too much fibre at once :). It’s also used when making stuffed cabbage for the very same reason. Smart!
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2 Comments

Filed under Dips

2 responses to “Fool

  1. Shahenda

    Yummm yummm the picture and the recipe are making me super hungry and since I haven’t had breakfast yet I think I’m gonna make me a fool plate 😀 Thanks for the inspiration

  2. Abir Sarker

    This sounds really good. Reminds me of the chana my mom makes with chickpeas instead of fava beans. Thanks for the recipe, I will be sure to give it a try. 🙂

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