Ful medames is a hearty fava bean purée common all over the Middle East, but especially in Egypt and Syria where it’s a regular street breakfast dish. The Egyptians favour serving it with chopped tomato and boiled egg; the Syrians with tahini, olive oil and Aleppo pepper sauce. Here I’ve gone the whole hog and served it with both for a satisfying and very pretty-looking brunch.
Note: you will need to begin this recipe the night before you want to eat, as the beans need to soak overnight.
Soak the fava beans overnight in cold water, then drain. Add the oil and onion to a large saucepan and set over a medium heat, frying for about 10 minutes until the onion is beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cumin seeds and fry for a further minute before adding the drained fava beans. Pour over 1.5 litres of cold fresh water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 1½ hours, by which time the beans should be soft and collapsing and most of the water absorbed. Stir regularly, especially towards the end of cooking, as it will be prone to sticking. Stir through lemon juice to taste and season generously with salt and pepper.
While the beans are cooking, place the Aleppo chilli flakes into a small heatproof glass bowl and pour over the boiling water. Set aside at room temperature for an hour or so until the chilli is rehydrated. Stir to mix just before serving.
To serve, divide the beans between shallow dishes. Scatter the tomatoes around the edge and tuck in a few pieces of boiled egg. Pour a little of the lemon tahini sauce over the beans and drizzle over plenty of olive oil and a little of the chilli sauce, add a lemon wedge to the plate too. Sprinkle with parsley and tuck in.