A trip to Cairo wouldn’t be complete without trying the ancient Egyptian breakfast staple, ful medames. To make the dish, the ‘fūl’ or beans are warmed and gently flavoured with cumin, onion, tomato, garlic and parsley. The richly flavoured beans are often accompanied by a colourful array of sides: smoky griddled flat breads, creamy tahini sauce with a lemony kick, hard boiled eggs for sustenance, and refreshing chopped tomato and cucumber salads.

Ful medames was a famed Egyptian breakfast recipe as far back as the fourth century where the beans were buried over gentle embers to slow cook – ‘Medames’ means buried in Egyptian. Yet today it is enjoyed throughout the Middle East, from Sudan to Syria, Israel and the Yemen.

This ful medames recipe is extremely quick and easy to prepare, and mostly made from pantry staples. Speed is of the essence at breakfast, so we’ve used a can of ready cooked ful medames – the special Egyptian variety of fava beans – so your breakfast is ready in minutes. However if you prefer, or are are catering for vast hoardes, do cook the fava beans from scratch yourself.

We drizzle tahini sauce over the cooked beans to serve. Tahini sauce is a very simple blend of tahini, water and lemon juice – and is great with many other Middle Eastern dishes. Drizzled over za’atar roast chicken, the rice and lentil dish muhammara, or grilled fish and salads.



Egyptian Breakfast Recipe: Ful Medames
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 can of ful medames beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
Tahini sauce
  • 100g tahini
  • 75ml water
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste
To Serve
  • Aleppo pepper
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • Chopped tomatoes & cucumber
  • Pitta bread
  1. Fry together half the onion and cumin powder in the olive oil for three minutes. Add the fava beans or ful medames beans and 100ml cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one minute. Crush the beans using a potato masher.
  2. Add the remaining onion, tomato, lemon juice and salt. Simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.
  3. To make the tahini sauce, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, minced garlic and salt.
  4. To serve, drizzle the tahini sauce over the cooked fava beans and sprinkle with aleppo pepper. Garnish with the boiled eggs, chopped tomatoes and cucumber and toasted pitta bread.