First of all foul is actually pronounced as if it you were saying the word “fool.” Foul Medames (commonly refered to simply as foul) are a bean product and staple of any Saudi diet. Foul can be readily served at every meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner and even in-between. It is available in all the grocery stores both large and small as well as one can go to any restaurant and purchase fresh foul to take home. Foul may also be known as fava beans. While the typical color is hues of red, sometimes one may see foul which is more yellow in color as well as almost black in color. However when buying it off the shelf in a can, the foul is usually the red beans.
Foul is not unique to Saudi Arabia. It can be found throughout the Arab world. It is traditionally served in small bowls and eaten by scooping chunks of traditional Arabic style bread into the foul similar as to how one dips chips into a picante sauce.
Foul is a tasty dish which can fill one up very quickly.
I like foul but I am a little bit picky on how it is prepared and prefer to “doctor” my own. I’ll start with an “off the shelf” can of foul medames (or fava beans). I’ll pour the can (beans and sauce) into a blender. I will also add some finely chopped tomatos, onions and chili peppers. On top of that I’ll season it with salt, pepper and cumin. Then I will squeeze the juice from half a lemon and start the blender. I’ll let it blend until it has the texture of a thick paste. From the blender I will transfer it to the stove and let it heat until it is bubbling and hot, stirring occasionally so as not to stick or burn.
For serving I put foul in several small dishes around the dinner table for easy access to everyone. I’ll pour a small amount of olive oil on top of the foul in the dish, garnish with a few pieces of fresh parsley and add a very small amount of ground cumin to the top. Served piping hot with warmed Arabic bread makes it an instant hit at any meal.