Well that’s a mouthful of a title…now, how to explain this dish?
First of all, it’s Malaysian. Sort of. It’s origins are actually Arab. In the Middle East, it’s called ‘Ful Medames’, which is actually Egypt’s national dish. It is a take on a popular breakfast dish that Muslims brought back to Malaysia from their pilgrimage.
The Malay’s have long since made this their own, by adding a distinctly Asian flavour to it. Like extra spices and calamansi limes. Since I can’t get those cute little limes here, I had to substitute regular limes.
I first had this in Singapore. My sister-in-law, Salmah, presented it one morning for breakfast. I recall looking down at this little bowl with a whole lot going on in it…pulverised beans with bits of meat, a fried egg, and loads of extras: teeny weeny (what the heck are those? Limes?), sliced green chilies, diced red onion, and hot buttered toast.
Before I was about to dig in, my brother- in- law said…”first, you must squirt the calamansi juice all over it”. So glad he told me this because WOW, what an awesome flavour combination! I love lots of lime juice on mine.
I’ve seen some recipes call for fava beans and some for broad beans. Don’t let that confuse you. They are one in the same.
The garnishes are crucial to this dish. They add texture and very interesting contrasts in taste.
Also, don’t forget the hot buttered toast. The thicker, the better! The Phool is quite nice sopped up or scooped with the toast.
Just to note: meat is not typically found in the Arab cousin of this dish. It’s one of those fusion liberties. If you don’t want to add meat, this dish would still be great. Since the meat is there for taste only, I chop it up very fine while it’s cooking, as I don’t want any meaty lumps. I rather it blends in.
The chick peas also are not normally found in phool. I think I recall Salmah added them because she was short another type of bean. I am glad she did because I love them!
*If you are wondering what I mean by Malaysian type curry powder, it is quite different from the Indian varieties. I would never say which is better – because I do love Indian food- but I am partial to Malay style curry. It’s just personal preference. A Malay curry mix, which I have, has chili as the main ingredient, followed by coriander, turmeric, cumin, anise, pepper, cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom.
Salmah’s Kacang Phool was “Shiok!!” as they say in Singapore (the utmost praise for yumminess).
I have tried to get mine to taste as good as hers, but she is an exceptional cook. Still, this isn’t bad if I do say so myself!
The following is not Salmah’s exact recipe, but is inspired by my memory of the meal she served to us.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 19 oz can of broad beans, drained and pureed
1 14 oz can white beans, drained and mashed
½ can chick peas (aprox. 8 oz), drained and slightly mashed
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 slices of fresh ginger (roughly the size of a quarter)
1 tsp fennel seed
2 tbsp curry powder (Malaysian type)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp tomato sauce
½ lb of lean minced beef
Water (see amounts below and add extra if needed)
6 wedges of limes, or 3 calamasi’s halved.
1 green chili pepper, thinly sliced
½ small red onion, diced
1 fried egg, sunny-side up (for each serving)
1 slice thick buttered toast (for each serving)
Before beginning to cook, have all ingredients ready and close to stove.
Puree broad beans with a little water and set aside. Mash the other beans and set aside. Grind the onion, garlic, and ginger in a small food processor or with a pestle. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add in the dry spices (except curry powder) and cook until fragrant. Don’t let them burn. Add in the ground ingredients, followed by the curry powder. Stir in 1/4 cup of water, and then add in meat and cook until done.
Add the tomato sauce, and pureed broad beans. Pour in 1 cup of water. Stir well, scraping up the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low.
Let that cook for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, fry the eggs and set aside.
Lastly, add in the regular beans and chick peas. Start the toast. Cook the phool, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. If it gets too thick (like paste), add a bit of water.
Butter and stack the toast. Spoon phool into a bowl, and serve with fried egg on top. Sprinkle diced onions and sliced chili on top, and serve with a wedge of lime.