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.
The copper jars in which the ful is cooked over very slow heat until it is melting
A close up of the fava beans. Hajj Abdo uses the large type.
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
for the tarator
1/2 cup tahini
1 clove garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
3/4 cup water
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.