Toyibajarnal’s ‘Special’ Ful with Spicy Tea


Toyibajarnal in her kitchen during the breakfast rush

This next recipe is a great little breakfast dish called ful, that’s made using fava (broad) beans, tomatoes and spices and eaten with great hunks of fresh bread and a sweet spicy tea. Ful is popular in loads of different Middle Eastern and African countries so there are many variations and interpretations. This recipe is Ethiopia’s interpretation, but made even more special with the addition of avocadoes and scrambled eggs. The eggs, along with the big dish and bread for dipping, reminds me a bit of shakshuka, which I have guzzled down many times with friends over brunch. I can imagine this bad boy inhabiting a similar space as shakshuka on the brunch tables across the UK.

Ful in the process of being cooked (the white splodge in the pot on the left are the fava beans)
Even within Ethiopia there are loads of variations of ful, the most unique so far was in Harar, but the best so far has been down in the Omo Valley in the town of Turmi. The Omo Valley is in the south of Ethiopia and an anthropologists dream come true; dozens of different tribal groups live in the region. The town of Turmi is in the heart of the valley and the ‘capital’ for the hammer tribe, who are widely recognised for their goat skin skirts, dreadlock hair and extreme coming-of-age rituals. Have you seen the Bruce Parry episode when he runs stark-bollock naked over some cows? That’s the Hammer tribe.
The hammer tribe: the ‘jumping of the bulls’ ceremony begins with the women getting whipped by hammer men. It was very tough to watch
OWWWWW. These women were absolute heroes. Their faces gave away no pain, but it must be agony
The Mursi tribe pose for a photo; definitely the scariest village we visited!
Dancing in a Daasanach village
Cass and I clearly weren’t the only people who loved the ful, the place was packed out with locals all tucking into pots of the stuff. For three days whilst we were travelling around the region we made the pilgrimage back to the same road side cafe in Turmi. On the last day I finally plucked up the courage to go back into the kitchen and ‘meet the chef’.
Toyibajarnal sends out fresh bread with each ful dish
The chef was a woman called Toyibajarnal who is originally from the city of Dessie, more than 1000km north. Toyibajarnal only moved down a few years’ ago and still finds the flat and hot valley very different to the highlands in the North. Her husband is originally from the same region but started coming down to the Omo Valley more than 15 years’ ago to trade supplies: oil, grains, pulses etc. Business was good so he eventually set up a shop, and brought Toyibajarnal down south with him to help out. It was only a year ago that they decided to start up a little café alongside the shop. Business is now booming, but not without its costs, Toyibajarnal works extremely hard and long hours.
Various stages of ful – the far left is the berbere spice, the middle is the fava beans and tomato and onion sauce (unmixed). After a minute or two cooking like that, Toyibajarnal then mixes the mixture togheter and cooks for a little longer before taking off the heat.
The recipe below is Toyibajarnal’s ful, if you want to make it ‘special’ then add the eggs and avocado on top (I mean, why wouldn’t you). Traditionally, the dish uses dried beans which are soaked overnight, but if you wanted to cheat you could use tinned beans. I would heartily encourage you to cook this alongside some spicy Ethiopian tea. Out here they serve the tea in a clear glass with a mountain of sugar piled up at the bottom. I’ll leave you guys to decide how ‘Ethiopian’ you dare to go with your sugar quantities!
‘Special’ ful, with avo and eggs – sorry I cheated as this is actually not Toyibajarnal’s ful. I kept eating her dish before remembering I needed to take a photo. Ooops!
Toyibajarnal’s Special Ful with Spicy Tea
Serves 4
Special Ful
350 grams of dried or 1 tin (450 grams) fava/broad beans
A generous drizzle of oil
1 onion, minced
1 tomato, minced
1 tbspn berbere spice
1 avocado, roughly chopped
4 eggs
Put your beans in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Cover with a lid and leave to soak overnight.
In the morning drain the beans (either the tin of beans, or your soaked beans), place back into the saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Place on the heat and boil for half an hour (a little less if you are using tinned beans) until the water has been soaked up by the beans. You want the beans to start to break down and be mushy. Drain any excess water from the pan.
Put a frying pan on medium heat and add a generous drizzle of oil along with the minced onion and tomato. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Add the berbere spice and cook together for a further 2 mins.
Add the beans to the frying pan and cook for 1 minute. Stir the whole mixture together and cook for a further 2 – 3 mins. Add salt and any extra berbere to taste. Remove from the heat whilst you prepare the eggs.
Whisk eggs together with a little milk. Scramble the eggs in a frying then. Roughly chop the avocado.
To serve, spoon the scrambled eggs and avocados on top of the ful and place in the middle of the table, along with some fresh bread for dunking and spicy tea. Eat immediately – preferably with friends or family.
Ethiopian Spicy Tea
2 tsp whole green cardamoms, bashed up a bit
2 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken up
1 tbspn grated ginger
700 ml water
2 – 3 black tea bags
Sugar to taste
Place all the spices and water in a pan and boil together for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and add black tea bags, leave to infuse for a few minutes. Strain the liquid and pour into glasses. Add as much sugar as your conscious will allow.
Hellooooo! 🙂

5 Comments Add yours

  1. How do the Ethiopian people cope with avocado hand?


  2. I haven't come across avocado hand yet….please enlighten me Lau?! X


  3. Alice says:

    Planning to make this soon Chloe, don’t think mine will be as good as the one we had in Addis though. It sounds great with the avocado too. Hope you are still enjoying your travels xx


    1. chloemackean says:

      Send me a pic when you do Alice. I don’t think any ful could top the one in Addis, damn that was good! Having a great time travelling still, I hope your course is going well xxx


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