Category Archives: Dips

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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Hummus

I'm suddenly in the mood for hummus. Looks delicious!

Let me start by saying that, alas, hummus isn’t really Egyptian. The patriot in me is a little upset that my ancestors didn’t come up with this king of dips, but I guess we have to leave something to the rest of the world. Also,  I must confess, my mom never really made it at home ; she considered it beyond her level of expertise, which baffles me considering how easy it is to make!

Hummus is, however, Middle-Eastern and did play a prominent role in the breakfasts I had at my Palestinian friend’s homes. Until recently, when I felt like having me some hummus, I did what most Canadians would do – I grabbed a tub of ready-made hummus off a shelf at my friendly neighborhood grocery store.  That was until I visited a very dear childhood friend in Texas last year. Now, apart from being super sweet and amazing ( I gave her the link to this blog :)), my friend is also ridiculously intelligent. This girls is doing her PhD in engineering at one of the top schools in the country! If she has time to make hummus from scratch, trust me, you do to.

Why make it though? First and foremost, it’s delicious & easy to make. Second, it’s good for you. Hummus is mainly made from chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which are a legume. Combine it with a grain (Aish Baladi) and you have a complete (cheap!) protein. Oh and the fibre, the glorious fibre, nutritionists are always harping on us to eat more of that, right? Just half a cup has about 7.5 grams of fibre , and that’s without having it with whole-wheat bread ;). Last but not least, it is incredibly versatile. I use it in sandwiches instead of mayo, as a dip for veggies and as a meal in its own right.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really in the mood for hummus right about now. So, without further ado,  here’s a recipe:

Note: I used canned hummus for ease, however, it is very easy (and cheaper!) to use dried beans. Just place the dried chickpeas in a pot of boiling water (giving it looooooots of room, because it will expand) and be prepared for a little bit of an odour as it cooks off. Also, froth will begin to form on the top of the water, just scoop that off as it cooks. It’s ready when it’s fork tender. Use it in the recipe once it has cooled.

    • 30 oz can of drained chickpeas
    • 1/2 cup of chickpea juice (reserve when you drain)
    • Juice of 2 lemons or more
    • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
    • 2 tbsp of sesame seed paste (tahini*)
    • 2 tbsp of olive oil
    • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tbsp of cumin powder
    • 1/2 tsp of salt
    • paprika (optional)

Blend everything together in a blender and serve chilled drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled    paprika for garnish.

Keeps in the fridge for a few days. Enjoy!

Change it up: Add or remove spices as you wish, add toppings like pitted olives, roasted pine nuts, chopped tomatoes/parsley, scallions,  add roasted garlic or red-pepper to the mix – let your imagination run wild!

Did You Know: It’s called Hummus in Arabic because the chickpeas themselves are called hummus? Also, the largest dish of hummus ever made was in May 2010, in Lebanon, made by 300 cooks and weighing in at 10, 452 Kg, wow! Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummus

* You can get Tahini from most grocery stores these days. Just look in the international section. The oil may have separated from the paste, but don’t worry, just give it a good stir before you use it.

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