Fuls medames

by Jenny Chandler

Fava bean stew with spiced lamb neck

This fava bean dish is a staple from Egypt and Sudan right through to the Middle East and Syria. The beans are often eaten at breakfast time, particularly during the Ramadan fast, when a plate of fuls can just about keep you going until nightfall. Topping the fuls with quick fried lamb takes the recipe to another level. The lamb works as a garnish for chickpea hummus, too—a classic Lebanese combination.


500g home-cooked whole fava beans or 2 x 400g tins of ful beans (cooked fava beans)
1 red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1-2 tsp freshly roasted and ground cumin

For the lamb:
250g neck fillet of lamb
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp sumac
½ tsp oregano or za’atar
100g pine kernels
3 tbsp olive oil
1 green chilli, sliced (optional)
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

For the garnish (optional):
Fresh tomatoes, diced
Sliced spring onions or, more traditionally, wedges of white onion
A handful of rocket
Fresh coriander or parsley, roughly chopped
Hard boiled eggs
Black olives
Tahini, to spoon and stir in
Sweet Aleppo or Turkish Urfa chilli flakes


Heat up the beans with plenty of seasoning. If you’ve cooked your own beans, make sure that they are really tender—almost mushy. Drain off some of the liquid, leaving behind just a few tbsp with the beans. If using canned beans, you can add the water from the can.

Meanwhile, slice the lamb fillet in half lengthwise and then into thin shreds. Mix with the spices and leave to marinade for at least 30 mins.

Dry fry the pine kernels in a large frying pan, keeping them on the move so that they brown evenly. Heat up the oil in the same pan and cook the spiced lamb in 2 or 3 batches, stir frying rather than sweating. Keep the pan very hot—the idea is to brown the lamb while keeping it juicy. Add the chilli to the last batch, fry for 1 min and then squeeze the lemon over the pan, tip in all the cooked meat, and switch off the heat.

When you are ready to serve, stir the onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and cumin into the cooked beans to taste. Season the meat with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley and serve alongside or on top of the fuls. Spoon into soup bowls and serve.

This simple combination makes a wonderfully sustaining dish when scooped up with flatbread, but you can also turn it into a fabulous feast with a selection of the garnishes set out in small bowls so that everyone can help themselves.

Recipe: Jenny Chandler