Fool is the mainstay of the Egyptian diet. Broad beans, fava beans, Vicia faba. The dried beans are soaked, then stewed and then mixed with oil, lemon and cumin. Eaten for breakfast, they are the national dish. I will write about fool on another occasion, however.
Today is Saturday, the second of our two weekend days. We are do-it-yourself breakfasters during the week, but I am often prevailed upon on the weekend to cook the morning repast–pancakes, a fry-up, waffles.
Our favorite Egyptian weekend breakfast is Ta’meyyah — what in some cultures is called falafel. There are major differences, however, between these two fried lumps of legumes, and I am firmly in the Egyptian camp of the debate. (In Lebanon and Syria, falafel is made with chickpeas and is much heavier.) Ta’meyyah is made with the fool bean although the beans are graded–the best being for fool; the supermarket sells 250 g packages of skinned and broken dried beans for ta’meyyah. Fool beans are sold whole, with the skin still on the dried bean. Fool is brown and when it is cooked is browner. Ta’meyyah beans are pale yellow, but emerge from the fryer the most marvelous combination of bright green and brown.
After the beans soak for several hours, they are ground in a food processor with large handfuls of chopped spring onion, fresh coriander and parsley, ground dried coriander seed and salt. At this point, the mixture can be frozen, so that if I remember I take it out of the freezer the night before, it will be ready for cooking by the time the family is up. Some cooks, including me, add a beaten egg to the mixture before frying.
Pushcarts near work sites set up every morning to fry ta’meyyah and serve fool. An oyster-size spoonful of ta’meyyah paste is dropped in boiling oil and the patties sizzle.
I love the contrast of the green inside with the brown crispy outside. When you pop one (after it has cooled!) in your mouth, the contrast continues with a very satisfying crispy outside and a soft and fresh tasting inside.
Typically two ta’meyyah are broken up and served in a piece of bread with a bit of salad and tahina sauce. A ta’meyyah sandwich or two sustains me until teatime.