Ful Mudammas

What the Ancient Israelites Ate - Ful Mudammas Recipe

The fava bean porridge of the donation
and the garlic and oil of daily life…

- Mishna Tvul Yom 2, 3

For Throwback Thursday, I’m revisiting one of the first recipes I covered on my blog – Ful Mudammas. This refreshed version features beautiful new photographs by my talented friend Kelly Jaggers.

I’ve always been curious about the recipes and ingredients of ancient Israel: the grains, meats, vegetables, fruits and spices that were consumed in Biblical times. This period in history has always fascinated me, especially the food—what was eaten, how it was prepared and the ways it was served. Finding out how people lived thousands of years ago is like putting together a complicated puzzle with lots of missing pieces. We rely on the research of archaeologists, historians, and the surviving texts from this period—the Talmud, Roman writings, and of course the Bible. Here, we read the Bible as a history book, gleaning clues from both the Torah and the New Testament to determine the important role food played in Biblical times.

At Nazareth Village in Israel learning about Biblical cuisine

A few years ago I visited two places in Israel that offer a rare glimpse at ancient Biblical life: Nazareth Village and Neot Kedumim Biblical Landcape Reserve. Both of these locations offer a unique opportunity to experience what life was like for the ancient Israelites. At Neot Kedumim I met with Dr. Tova Dickstein, who is known worldwide as an expert on ancient and Biblical foods. She’s been interviewed by National Geographic and the History Channel, as well as the Naked Archaeologist. Tova generously shared her extensive knowledge of Biblical foods with me, which made for a fascinating afternoon.

Tova gave me an educational tour of Neot Kedumim. The reserve stands above a valley where archaeologists have unearthed one of the oldest known agricultural communities. Neot Kedumim was established in the 1960’s by Noga Hareuven, a well-known biblical botanist. He wanted to create an educational park where the landscape would reflect the physical setting of the Bible. The plants, trees and crops that grow there reflect the flora of ancient Israel. After the park was established, archaeologists discovered some incredible things at Neot Kedumim, including ancient wine and olive oil presses. The park also contains reconstructed wheat threshing floors, water cisterns, and ritual baths.

Reconstructed ancient olive press at Neot Kedumim

If you’re planning a trip to Israel and you have an interest in Biblical history, I recommend a visit to Neot Kedumim. Here is a link to their website if you want to learn more:

Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve

At one point during our interview, I asked Tova what the main protein source was for the ancient Israelites. She explained to me that meat was rarely consumed because it was too expensive for the majority of ancient Israelites; it was considered a “luxury” and was eaten sparingly. They ate a largely vegetarian diet that relied heavily on grains, Mediterranean vegetables, fruits, and legumes. One of most popular legumes in the Biblical diet was the “broad bean,” or what we refer to today as the fava bean.

Fava beans are one of the oldest domesticated food legumes. References to fava beans occur in both the Talmud and the Mishna, indicating they have been part of the Middle Eastern diet since at least since the 4th century. During our interview, Tova told me that fava beans were likely one of the main protein sources for the ancient Israelites. In fact, the ancient method for cooking fava beans is discussed in the Talmud. The beans were immersed in a pot of water, sealed, then buried beneath hot coals so they could slowly cook.

Ful mudammas (pronounced fool mu-dah-mahs), a popular Middle Eastern dish made from fava beans, bears similarity to this ancient method of cooking. Sometimes spelled foul mudammas and often referred to as simply “ful,” this dish is served throughout the Middle East. Ful is known for making you feel full and satisfied due to its high fiber content. In Muslim countries ful is often eaten during Ramadan before sunrise so people can fast more easily during the daylight hours. It is sometimes served on top of chickpea hummus in a dish called “hummus ful.”

Ful mudammas is served in different ways throughout the Middle East; it is particularly popular in Egypt and Lebanon. Some countries top it with hard-boiled egg, others like it with chopped fresh tomatoes. Some serve it mashed, others leave the beans whole. The base of the dish tends to be the same everywhere, including fava beans, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Lemon wasn’t cultivated in Israel at the time of the Torah, though there was a similar citrus fruit called a “citron” that was sometimes used in cooking. That said, lemon juice adds a terrific flavor to ful mudammas. If you would like to keep it strictly Biblical-style, cut the lemon. The rest of the ingredients were available and common to the ancient Israelites.

Ful muddamas is traditionally served for breakfast or lunch, sometimes together with hummus, alongside fresh warm pita bread. The bread is used to scoop up the fava beans. Personally I find this dish quite filling without the bread, so those of you who are gluten-free can readily enjoy this recipe too. I usually use roasted garlic in my ful, which is easier to digest than raw. Either can be used; raw garlic will have a stronger flavor in the finished dish.

Food Photography and Styling by Kelly Jaggers

What the Ancient Israelites Ate - Ful Mudammas Recipe

Ful Mudammas

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (16 oz.) cooked or canned fava beans
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 raw or 4 roasted garlic cloves, chopped (to learn to roast garlic, click here)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Juice from 2 fresh lemons (or more to taste)

Optional Toppings

  • Sliced hard boiled egg
  • Diced ripe red tomato
  • Raw onion sliced into rings
  • Fresh minced parsley or cilantro
  • Red chili pepper flakes
  • Paprika
  • Tahini sauce
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 2
  • Though I don't normally recommend using canned beans over cooked, I have never had great results with soaking and cooking dried fava beans-- they never seem to cook up as tender as canned, even after long periods of boiling. However, you do have the option to use either dried or canned beans in this recipe. If using dried beans, soak them overnight, then cover with water and simmer till tender (this can take up to 2 hours or longer and will prolong the recipe prep time significantly). Drain and set aside, then proceed with recipe. If using canned fava beans, pour them into a colander to drain. Rinse the beans in cold water. Set aside, then continue with recipe.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Fry the diced onion till it becomes translucent and golden. Add garlic and cumin, sauté for 1 minute till fragrant. Add the fava beans to the pan, then add about ½ cup of water to the skillet. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, season with salt and pepper to taste (I usually add about ½ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp of pepper). Cover the skillet.
  • What the Ancient Israelites Ate - Ful Mudammas RecipeLet mixture simmer for about 10 minutes on medium low heat until the beans are nice and tender. Remove lid from pot and continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by about 75 percent. Remove from heat.
  • What the Ancient Israelites Ate - Ful Mudammas RecipePour the fava bean mixture into a mixing bowl. Squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Mash the mixture to a semi-smooth consistency; it should be a little more chunky than hummus. For a mashing tool, I like to use my spice pestle. You can also use a potato masher or the back of a large metal spoon.
  • What the Ancient Israelites Ate - Ful Mudammas RecipeServe each portion on a plate as you would hummus. Create a shallow basin in the center of the ful mudammas. Drizzle olive oil lightly inside the basin, then garnish with the ingredients of your choice. Serve hot.
  • What the Ancient Israelites Ate - Ful Mudammas Recipe

Comments (56)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    It looks delicious! Btw do you have a recipe for gluten-free pita bread? I’m really missing pita bread. By the way, where can I find fava beans? Thanks Tori!

    1. Thea, I don’t have a GF pita recipe unfortunately, but I bet you can find one on the web. You can find fava beans at your local Middle Eastern market, and sometimes at the health food store. Some major grocery chains carry them in the dry bean section.

  2. Shiksa! I am so excited about this recipe and the idea of more. I have wanted to learn about Biblical foods, etc for some time now. I want to know exactly how our biblical ancestors lived. I can’t wait for your cookbook to be printed. Have a blessed evening my friend.

  3. We used to eat this at a Lebanese restaurant in my neighborhood but they closed down a few years ago.Ate it in the morning,then we didn’t need to eat the rest of the day. Thank you, I’ll ask my wife to make it for us.

  4. Mmmm ful!! We spell it “foul” which is funny cuz we don’t pronounce it “foul” more like “fool.” We usually make it with hummus and serve the two together. Healthy and DELISH. Never tried roasing the garlic, I will try that next time!

  5. I will be making this along with flatbread and Basaboosa for my Preschool class. This month we learned all about Egypt. Thank you!!

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Thank you for posting this! There’s a Greek and Arabic restaurant opposite my college, and the ful mudammas that they serve has become my favourite lunchtime dish. It’s great to find a recipe for it that I can make at home too!

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Really impressive! I was thrilled to try such a carefully researched recipe and was not disappointed. We made it today and it was amazing. My ful muddamus always tasted sort of Indian in the past (we are Indian-Americans) and it’s great to try a recipe for it that makes it taste truly middle eastern. Hooray for authentic cooking!

  8. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    We learned this dish from a friend who grew up in Egypt. He uses fava beans and lentils interchangeably; we use lentils ourselves because they go so fast from dried to cooked (I don’t eat canned food), and because we like the nuttier taste. We’ve always served it with tomatoes and scallions, as our friend does. Excited to contemplate hard-boiled eggs!

  9. We do this recipe in Malta and it is called “Bigilla” A traditional and ancient recipe. The beans are soaked overnight. They are then placed in a large pot and covered with water and left to simmer until they are cooked and the liquid is absorbed. The beans are mashed and then placed in a bowl, chili pepper and garlic are added according to taste, and garnished with fresh chopped parsley. Just before serving we sprinkle some olive oil. This dish can be served hot or cold with crusty bread.

  10. Hey Tori! I just love your website. I was wondering if you had any information on what people used to eat for breakfast in history? I used to live in South Korea and they don’t really have “breakfast” foods or dishes like Westerners do. Have Westerners always eaten particular foods for breakfast or are cereal and pancakes and items like that just part of a diet trend of the last 100 years?

    Thanks for your thoughts!!!

    Veronica May

  11. Hi,
    you can also crumble some fetta cheese and some flafel on top of ful muddamas and add some chopped fresh parsley and mint leaves then just add alittle olive oil and enjoy!.

  12. I grew up with parents and grandparents from Egypt We ate this as a soup. My mom would also use brown eggs in there and it was delish!
    Have you ever heard or tastes (excuse the spelling) Mullicaya it’s a green soup I would love to make it!

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Looks delicious! I’ve never had fava beans, although I’ve honestly never met a bean I didn’t like. This would make a fantastic brunch dish. I really like the idea of serving it over hummus.

    At first glance, I thought it had shrimp in it — I think the tomatoes fooled me. After reading the recipe, it occurs to me that shrimp might be really tasty as a garnish, along with the eggs & tomatoes. Obviously, that wouldn’t be kosher, but delicious nonetheless.

  14. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori, thanks for taking us to two places in Israel that offer a rare glimpse at ancient Biblical life. I enjoyed very much the tour with you !! You looked gorgeous and outstanding with the people there !!
    My sister told me that in Shanghai, China, fava beans are in season — in May, fresh !! I sent your website to her so that she can cook it for her family.
    Thanks for sharing all the yummy recipes and taking us the details of many recipes.
    Have a great weekends and Happy Sabbath day !!

  15. Yum Tori you came up with another winner! They sell fresh fava beans in some supermarkets my sells them, you have to shell them, i dont think they would take long cooking time the fresh ones and bet it taste better than canned. Oh some middle east food stores that sell vegetables sells these too.,

  16. Greetings Tori!

    I was wondering, after soaking the fava beans overnight, would it be possible to put in a crock pot on high and cook them all day, then have this delectible dish for dinner that evening?

    1. Hi Gina, that might work. Honestly I’ve never had good luck with soaking and cooking fava beans, the skins are always tough in my experience no matter how long you cook them. While I usually recommend cooking your own beans, in this case I much prefer the canned beans to the dry ones. Perhaps it is only the variety that is sold in my local Middle Eastern market, but I find the quality to be lacking in the dried beans.

  17. Tori- I hope you also have the chance to meet Abbie Rosner who is also doing very interesting work in this area. My husband, (who is writing a book on Jewish food) and I went on one of her culinary tours two years ago- it was the highlight of our trip. link to galileecuisine.co.il

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