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Another great trip to Syria with a wonderful group. We had great fun despite being driven by possibly the most stubborn and moronic driver ever. He and his uncomfortable bus (supposedly VIP) were the low point of an otherwise lovely trip.

As usual, the food was delicious with one of the great hits being breakfast at my favourite fawwal (ful medammes specialist) where lovely Hajj Abdo makes the best ever ful medammes. Like Hanna, Hajj Abdo is a wonderful old man who’s been making ful medammes for over fifty years; and he is still personally in charge of the making and serving of his speciality. Here he is in action. What you see him doing in this clip is what he does, almost non-stop, from 7 am to 3 pm every day.

However, unlike Hanna who started his own ice cream business, Hajj Abdo inherited his from his father, and he keeps to the same tradition of serving only two choices: ful with tahini or ful with lemon juice.

I prefer the richer tahini version. Here is a recipe for you to try at home, although I have to say that it will not be as good as Hajj Abdo’s. For the ultimate version, you will have to go there. His place is in Jdaydeh, at the corner of the lane that leads to Dar Zamaria Hotel.

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The copper jars in which the ful is cooked over very slow heat until it is melting

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A close up of the fava beans. Hajj Abdo uses the large type.

Ful Medammes

I am giving the tahini version below. If you prefer to use lemon juice, simply replace the tarator with an equal amount of lemon juice mixed with a little water so that the ful is not too tart. Serves 4

For the ful

2 cups dried fava beans, soaked overnight in plenty water with 1 teapsoon baking soda

sea salt

for the tarator

1/2 cup tahini

1 clove garlic, crushed

juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

3/4 cup water

to finish

2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper paste, diluted with 3 tablespoons water (optional)

extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the ful

Drain and rinse the soaked beans under cold water. Put in a large saucepan and add about 1 litre/quart water. Place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours, until the beans are very tender and the cooking water has thickened. Add salt to taste – you do not want to add the salt until the very end, otherwise the skins will harden.

Make the tarator by mixing the tahini with the crushed garlic and lemon juice, then gradually add the water until the mixture is a little thinner than double cream.

To serve the ful: pour a little tarator in a serving bowl. Add a serving of hot beans together with a little of their cooking juice. Spoon a little diluted pepper paste all over the top, then drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately with pita bread.

©anissa helou

There is 16 comments on this post

  • This Hajj Abdo looks so sweet and sounds adorable; was that you speaking to him in Arabic? it is so cute you have atinge of English accent when you speak Arabic!
    I have been thinking of making ful now I am definitely making some! the Aleppo way.

  • Superbe! cooking pots are fabulous!!!

  • they are, aren’t they? would love to have one.

  • yes, it is my voice and my arabic is not so great any more. still fluent enough though. i’m sure youll like the ful made his way.

  • Anissa

    Do you know a place I can get Aleppo pepper seeds to grow here in my California garden (SF Bay Area)? I grow many peppers/chiles plus heirloom tomatoes, beans, herbs etc.

  • gosh, i wish you’d asked me before when i was still there. i got some but to send to a friend in sicily. i’ll get you some next time i am there. not sure where you can get them outside.

  • Oh, no I want to go to Aleppo. Still, i guess making ful is the next best thing. It’s something I have yet to try. Do the dry beans give a better flavour than tins? I am always torn between the time it takes to soak dried beans and the flavour they deliver.

  • i prefer dried but the canned ones are v soft. not the same though. try both and let me know which you like best.

  • Nabil Abi-Jaoudé
    July 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Ya Anissa ya helweh (Beautiful to those who don’t read Arabic).

    Come to think of it your last name means just that or sweet. Obviously you are blessed with a good name and you are surely living up to it. Bravo ..

    I am simply a fan from a far. – Toronto, Canada – The video clip of abu abdo reminded me of Marroush from the 60’s in Beirut. Very much the same copper jars.

    Just to brag I do make a mean plate of FOOL. I call it Fool because it sounds exactly like we say it in Arabic and it makes for a funny exchange whenever I introduce it to a new class .

  • Pardon my ignorance, but is it tahini oil or tahini sauce? I l’m assuming tahini oil, but I want to be sure.

  • there is no tahini oil. it is either sesame oil or tahini which is extracted from sesame seeds. and with tahini you make tahini sauce :). check out my lebanese cookbook for the recipe 🙂

  • Man, his food looks great. I’ve had foul before, but I always wanted to try the Aleppo version (ironically, a restaurant named “Aleppo Kitchen” here in SoCal did not have it on the menu, but I will ask the owners next time if they could custom make it).

    It’s tragic that Aleppo has been scarred by the civil war, and that thousands of its denizens have fled or perished. I wonder if Hajj Abdo was able to escape?

  • He did, to Egypt 🙂

  • Oh, Thank God. Was he able to reestablish his business in Egypt?

  • Not sure. I never found him…

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