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Incredibly healthy, super filling, economical and insanely delicious: Ful Mudammas seems to check all the boxes for a perfect meal. An longstanding dietary staple in the Arab world, this fava bean dip dates back to biblical times, its main ingredient being indigenous to the Fertile Crescent where this dish originates. The name itself means “Fava beans” in Arabic.
Now, Palestinian-American visual artist and content creator Nadia Irshaid Gilbert (they/them) brings this ancient recipe to a modern platform. Their Ful Mudammas YouTube video on their cooking channel, Sahtein! (the Arab rendition of ‘bon appétit’), has over 18,000 views and counting.
While the creator was born in Florida and grew up in Connecticut, Gilbert has always felt a sense of deep pride and honor to be Palestinian. In recent years, they took to YouTube to share the traditional foods of their heritage. “To me, Ful is a breakfast meant to be shared with the ones you love, as part of a generous and abundant spread,” said Gilbert. “It brings me such joy to see my Western friends dig into it with the same fervor as my Palestinian family. To me, it’s a testament to the way this food is universally grounding and connective.”
A staple across the Middle East and North Africa, Ful Mudammas is not only delicious, it’s highly nutritious. The fava bean base is high in filling fiber and protein, is cooked down with fresh garlic and often seen topped with tomatoes and parsley. Gilbert’s version kicks the flavor profile up a notch with an untraditional twist: A handful of juicy roasted tomatoes mixed into the bean dip. We sat down with Gilbert to learn more about both themselves and their ties to this dish.
Clean Eating: You call this recipe the “holy grail of breakfasts.” Why?
Nadia Irshaid Gilbert: For those who can eat fava beans, Ful is loaded with nutrients and is a perfect way to start an active day. Fava beans are very filling and suit all kinds of dietary restrictions. It’s an all-around winner and cultural favorite across the SWANA (SouthWest Asian & North Africa) region!
CE: You add an untraditional signature secret ingredient: roasted tomatoes. How did this idea come about?
Gilbert: I came up with it myself – I love roasting cherry tomatoes until they become luxurious, umami flavor bombs. It just made sense to add them into this dish for color and pops of acidity.
CE: On your website, you talk about “redefining our idea of nourishment.” What does this mean?
Gilbert: We can be nourished in all areas of our lives, not just the way that we eat. Food is fuel for the body, but like all things in our physical world, it has its own energetic properties, its own intelligence. Food is information. What are we ingesting through all our windows of perception? How are we nourishing our souls through food, experiences, what we listen to, who we speak to?
CE: Tell us more about Sahtein!, your cooking YouTube channel.
Gilbert: Sahtein! began as a YouTube series I created for fun, aiming to elevate and celebrate Palestinian culture and my own third-culture-kid background (I’m half Palestinian and half American). It has since expanded its audience and now includes virtual cooking classes and in-person events. YouTube is just the beginning — we continue to expand and are going to share this beautiful cuisine with the entire world.
My experience as someone living in diaspora, with a mixed background (Palestianian and American, informs everything that I do. The food speaks for itself and sharing it is a true joy. I think (I hope!) that is felt when engaging with my work — it really all comes from the heart.
Ful Mudammas by Nadia Irshaid Gilbert
- Preheat oven to 400°F. On a baking sheet lined with foil, season cherry tomatoes with salt and drizzle with 1 tbsp oil until thoroughly coated. Roast tomatoes for 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
- To a mortar and pestle, add chopped garlic, small pinch of salt and 1 tsp oil. Crush into a thick paste.
- On a wide pan over low heat, add 1 tbsp oil. Add most of the garlic paste to the pan and lightly cook. Add cumin and cook with garlic, until fragrant.
- Add fava beans to pan and add boiling water to soften, cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. If using, add ½ tsp chile paste. Mix well, then turn off heat.
- Use potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to roughly crush fava beans to favored consistency. (Nadia prefers theirs finely mashed into a smooth, hummus-like consistency but make it your desired consistency.)
- To fava bean mixture in pan, stir in most of the roasted cherry tomatoes (leave 2-3 for garnish) and ¾ chopped tomato (leave ¼ for garnish) and mix well. Add lemon juice and ¼ cup olive oil and mix well.
- Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with remaining roasted tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, parsley, green onions and remaining garlic paste. If using, you can garnish with ½ tsp chile paste. Drizzle with oil to taste. Serve with warm pita bread or raw onions soaking in olive oil.