Monday, February 23, 2015

Ful Medames with Roasted Piment and Za'atar Spice







     Egyptian Ful Medames With Garnishes That Compliment The Traditional Flavor!
     Ful Medames is a famous traditional Egyptian recipe.  Ful Medames is usually served as breakfast and it happens to be one of the healthiest of all breakfast entrées of them all. 
     There are several different ways to present Egyptian Ful Medames.  I posted a classic Ful Medames recipe a while ago and the classic presentation is my favorite version.  A classic Ful Medames looks richer and thicker than today's recipe version.  I have seen many versions of Ful Medames that were not stewed till the mixture became thick from soft mashed Fava Beans.  The onions can easily be seen when they are not mashed with the beens.  

     Just to jazz the Ful Medames up a little bit, I decided to use roasted red bell pepper as a garnish.  Just like with Harissa, roasted red bell peppers is popular nearly everywhere in North Africa.  Harissa paste is the most popular pepper product in North Africa and one of the ingredients in Harissa Paste is roasted red bell pepper.  Roasted bell pepper does taste nice with Ful Medames.

     Za'atar Spice has its origins in ancient Egypt.  Za'atar has been made since before the age of the Pharaohs.  There are nearly as many recipes for Za'atar Spice mix as there are cooks in the Middle East region.  Every cook custom blends their own Za'atar and some family recipes are a closely guarded secret.  
     A few of the Za'atar ingredients are hard to find outside of the Middle East.  Wild Thyme is a one of a kind herb and it tastes nothing like regular European Thyme.  Regular thyme is not an acceptable substitute for wild thyme.  
     The cost of buying the spices separately, costs much more than buying a container of pre-mixed za'atar spice.  Pre-made za'atar spice mixes can be found in Mediterranean food markets.  I chose a Za'atar from Jordan for today's recipe.  The Jordan Za'atar has a high proportion of Wild Thyme in the blend.  
     Za'atar is not part of a traditional Ful Medames recipe, but it does add a nice traditional Egyptian flavor.  The Za'atar spice takes the place of parsley in today's recipe.  Only 2 to 3 pinches of Za'atar are needed to flavor the Ful Medames.  
     One thing to keep in mind when cooking the onions and garlic for Ful Medames, is that the onions should not be browned at all.  The onions should be cooked only till they are clear in color, so they remain sweet tasting.  

     Ful Medames with Roasted Piment and Za'atar Spice:
     Step 1:  Place 1 large brown egg in salted water in a sauce pot.  
     Bring the water to a boil and set the timer for 12 minutes.
     Cool the hard boiled egg under cold running water.
     Use a spoon to crack the shell and peel half of the egg.
     Loosen the remaining shell that is attached, so the the egg is easy to pop out, when eaten by hand.
     Set the egg aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 1/4 cups of rinsed cooked soft fava beans or rinsed canned fava beans in a mixing bowl.   
     Mash 1/2 of the beans.  (If the fava beans are very soft, leaving them whole is optional.  Some people like to mash the beans while they eat.) 
     Set the beans aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 ounce of olive oil.
     Add 2 coarsely chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 3 to 4 slices of onion that are about 1/4" thick.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add 1 peeled seeded roasted red bell pepper that is cut into wide strips.
     Add the prepared fava beans.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of za'atar spice.
     Add 1 pinch of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 8 torn Italian Parsley leaves.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce, till the water is almost evaporated.
     Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
     Add 1 ounce of virgin olive oil.
     Stir the the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Presentation:
     Mound the Ful Medames on a plate.
     Arrange the roasted red pepper strips on the top center of the mound, as a bed for the egg.
     Pour any excess lemon juice and olive oil in the pan over the Ful Medames.
     Place the half peeled hard boiled egg on the bed of roasted red pepper strips.
     Sprinkle a little bit of paprika over the egg.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with lemon wedges, pita bread and lavash bread on the side. 

     The health benefits of eating Ful Medames are easy to imagine.  The za'atar spice and roasted pepper create a nice flavor!  

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