Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee
When I was in Israel last year, I ate a delicious, hearty breakfast at a cafe in Tel Aviv. It was listed as "Egyptian breakfast" and consisted of ful (warm crushed dried broad beans), super-smooth hummus, a halved hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, cucumber, and purple onion, and was served with sesame-dusted bread.
While many recipe writers list baking soda as an ingredient in hummus, I used to worry that it would make the chickpeas taste alkaline, so I left it out. But this time, I made two batches of hummus: one with baking soda, the other without. The version with baking soda took much less time to soften the chickpeas and, when puréed, the hummus was super-smooth. Now I always add baking soda to the chickpeas.
Ful with hummus
This recipe is adapted from one in the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The original doesn't say to skin the chickpeas or the broad beans, but I do it anyway.
For the hummus:
500 grams dried chickpeas
1½ tbsp baking soda
About 150 grams tahini
About 60ml fresh lemon juice
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and divided
For the ful:
300 grams dried broad beans (also called fava beans)
80ml olive oil
80ml fresh lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled
Fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Paprika, for sprinkling
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Persian or Japanese cucumbers, in 5mm slices
Fresh, ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
Purple onion, cut into 1cm squares
3-4 large eggs, at room temperature
Fresh parsley leaves
Pita bread or another type of flat bread
In separate bowls, rinse the chickpeas and broad beans, then add enough water to cover them by about 3cm and soak over night. Drain them separately, rinse with cold water and drain again. Put the chickpeas in a large saucepan, stir in the baking soda and two garlic cloves, then add enough water to cover the ingredients by about 2cm. Put the broad beans in another pan and add water to cover them by about 2cm. Set each pan over a medium flame, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered. Add more water if needed, so the ingredients stay submerged.
When the chickpeas are tender, remove the pan from the flame and leave at room temperature until cool. Rub the chickpeas in the palms of your hands: the skins will come off and float to the surface of the water - skim them off and discard them (you don't need to remove them all, just most of them). Discard the garlic cloves. Place the pan over a medium flame and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Ladle off about 200ml of the cooking liquid, then drain the chickpeas. Put them in the bowl of a food processor and add four to six garlic cloves, some salt, the tahini and lemon juice. Process to a rough paste then add enough of the cooking liquid to make a very smooth, soft purée. Taste for seasonings and add more tahini, garlic, lemon juice and/or salt, if needed. Scrape the hummus into a bowl and keep warm.
When the broad beans are tender, remove the pan from the flame and leave until the water is warm. Peel the tough skin from each broad bean (it's not as easy as with chickpeas; you have to do it one by one). Discard the skins, but put the beans back into the pan, set it over a medium flame and bring to the boil. Ladle off about 100ml of the cooking liquid, then drain the beans. Put them in the bowl of the food processor and add the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and a sprinkling of salt. Process until it forms a coarse paste. If the mixture is too thick, add some of the cooking liquid - the texture should be rough and thicker than the hummus. Taste for seasonings and add more olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and/or salt, if needed. Spoon this into the bowl so it doesn't quite cover the hummus. Drizzle the hummus and ful with olive oil then sprinkle with paprika and sesame seeds.
Put the eggs into a pan large enough to hold them, with enough room to let them "swim". Add enough water to cover them by 1cm. Place over a medium-low flame and bring to the boil. Cover the pan with the lid then remove it from the heat and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse the eggs with cold water, then cover with water and leave at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Crack the egg shells all over, then briefly soak the eggs - still in their shells - in a bowl of ice water.
Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them into quarters. Lightly toast the bread by grilling (or pan-frying) it in a lightly oiled pan. Cut the bread into wedges. Let your guests spoon the ful and hummus into individual bowls and garnish their portions to taste with egg, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley. Eat with the warm bread.