I don't profess to know much about fuul. My experience with the Middle Eastern version of the cooked and mashed fava bean has been only in Egypt. I have not had the pleasure of sampling the Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Jordanian, or Saudi Arabian versions, so the review to come should only apply to the land of the Pyramids.
Fuul is often looked at as a mundane concoction that simply cannot be good, no matter what is done to it. For something so "not good," fuul has developed quite a reputation as the staple food of Egypt and favourite of most foreign males that grace the country's streets. You won't go far without seeing either a fuul cart, a fuul cafe, or someone carrying a bag of fuul. It's that pervasive and that popular.
Fuul is cooked in an edra,
a giant, lightbulb-shaped metal pot. A good batch of fuul usually must cook on low heat overnight until the beans are soft and tender, perfect for mashing. Perhaps the greatest skill of the fuul master is getting the fuul out of the edra
with minimum spillage. It's a tough motion to explain literally, so I'll say that it'll likely lead to a strong right arm. You'll just have to see it to believe it.
Once the fuul is out of the edra
, it is put into either a bag, a bowl, or a sandwich. Then a variety of sauces, spices, and oils are added; tahina
, olive oil, corn oil, cumin, red chilli powder, coriander, salt, and pepper to name a few. This is where the magic happens. The proper combination of these things can make or break the fuul. And, I believe, the right combination is the ultimate prize for any fuul enthusiast.
The most well-known varieties of fuul are as follows:Fuul Eskandroni
- Literally, Alexandrian fuul. It contains tahina
, tomatoes, onions, and other spices.Fuul Zebda
- Fuul with butter. Browned melted butter poured over the beans.Fuul Zeid Zeitoun
- Fuul with Olive Oil.Fuul Seda
- Straight fuul.
There are a few others, but these are the ones worth mentioning. If you find yourself in a Middle Eastern roadside stand and don't know what to eat, use the above as a pretty good guide.
Alright, so now you have a little reference for the definitive review of the most glorious fuuls in Egypt.