Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Fool Mudamas and Fresh Pita - From the Tables of Lebanon

Are you a fool for fool? Also spelled ful, fuhl and likely several other ways ~ this fool is not your whipped cream dessert fare, it is a hearty bean dish from Lebanon. Great for vegetarians and people on a budget, it is healthy and economical and pairs wonderfully with a cucumber yogurt salad and fresh pita bread.
I like to mash my beans a bit with a potato masher and sometimes serve them with chopped fresh chilies, tomato and onions. This time I served them with a prepared mango pickle in mustard sauce that I found at my local Persian market.
This meal was perfect to serve to my (mostly) vegetarian university scholar, home for a little TLC and laundry. The book, From the Tables of Lebanon, is a great little cookbook of simple vegetarian recipes with short (and easy to find) ingredient lists. I appreciated that it didn't lean towards soy or other "meat substitutes", but relied on pure, natural ingredients, fresh from the market.

From The Tables of Lebanon
Traditional Vegetarian Cusine
Dalal A. Holmin, Maher A. Abbas, MD
Softcover, 8x7, 176 pages

Fool Mudamas
Fava Beans

An excellent dish for bean lovers, this recipe is similar to the breakfast fava beans. Dried beans are used instead.

1 pound dried fava beans
1 teaspoon baking soda

4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (red pepper)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

Cover the dried beans with water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and soak over night. Rinse several times. Cover with clean, fresh water (about 12 cups) and cook over medium heat for several hours until soft and succulent. Drain.

Mix the garlic with the lemon juice, then add the olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Mix again.

Add the mixture to the drained beans, and garnish with the parsley. Serve warm with pita bread.

Arabic Bread (Pita)
Khibibz Arabi

2¼ teaspoons dry baking yeast
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk


Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a ¼ cup of the lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a depression in the center, and add the remaining water, the milk, and dissolved yeast. Begin mixing the flour with the liquid, making sure all the batter on the sides of the bowl is well mixed into the dough. Dip your hand in the water, an knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough and set in a warm place until it doubles in size, at least 2-4 hours.

Punch the dough down and knead for a couple of minutes. Form into 4 smooth balls. Each ball should be the size of an orange. Cover the dough with a cloth, and set in a warm place. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Roll out the balls into circles about ¼ inch thick. Place on cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal, and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes, then place the bread under the broiler for a few seconds until lightly browned.

The breads may be eaten right away or frozen for long-term storage. If you care going to store the bread, let it cool down to room temperature for 30 minutes before packing into a plastic bag. Frozen loaves can be warmed in the oven or microwave.