ultimate brunch - beans (kind-of kacang pool, aka ful medames Singapore-style)
Monday, 13 Feb 2017


So this is your new ultimate brunch: beans edition.

This weekend I made kacang pool, a version of ful medames popular in Singapore and the southernmost Malaysian state of Johor. Ful medames is, essentially, a sort of fava bean mash originally from the Middle East and Egypt, usually served with a hard boiled egg, the tomato-cucumber-onion salad and lemon juice and maybe tahini. It was originally brought into Singapore by Yemeni immigrants. The Singapore versio differs by having a fried egg, lime juice and, naturally, chillies. ‘Kacang’ means nuts, and ‘pool’ isa local mispronounciation of ful.

When I was little my mother used to have kacang pool every time we went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens from a little food centre near it, but that doesn’t exist anymore. The best place to have it now in Singapore is Fhoul Madinah Istimewa, but it’s actually very easy to make your own and you can feel smugly frugal and plant-based - the ones you buy have mince but the original middle-eastern recipes are vegetarian, which is how I make it (and it’s also a great vegan meal if you omit the egg). My version consists of two tins, one of baked beans (I use Heinz) and one of prepared fava beans which you can easily get in a larger supermarket or a middle-eastern/Turkish grocery shop. I used the California Garden Palestinian recipe - in most shops you can choose from different regional variations of ful medames, just get one without tahini. All you do is blitz some garlic and onion in a food processor, cook it all down with some spices and mash the beans right in the pot. If you don’t have a potato masher handy just use a fork. It couldn’t be easier.

I like spiciness so I used hot green chillies for the salad. The egg you can dispense with if you’re vegan or don’t have an egg, but the salad is essential. The hot chillies and onions, juicy tomato and sour lime juice combine with the mashed spicy fava, and all the different layers just come together into something incredibly delicious.

It’s simple enough to cook even on a Sunday morning (which qualifies it as an ultimate brunch food), but I really recommend some good bread to have it with. I baked the Everyday Loaf (using baguette dough) from Uri Scheft’s book Breaking Breads and nothing quite elevates a meal like freshly baked bread, but a bought baguette or your favourite sourdough would do equally well.

kind-of kacang pool, aka ful medames Singapore-style


Serves 2

  • 1 regular tin baked beans (415g)
  • 1 tin ful medames (450g)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 0.5 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 potato masher

Heat some oil in a pan at a medium heat.

Peel the garlic cloves and ginger. Peel and quarter the onion. Pulse in a food processor a few times until smoothish but a bit chunky.

Saute the onion-garlic mixture until fragrant.

Add the beans and spices. Turn down the heat a little.

Cover and cook until beans are soft, about 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and mash with a potato masher.

Put a different pan on for the eggs. Turn the heat up and fry an egg per person.

To serve, spoon half the kacang pool mixture in a bowl, top with an egg and the supplementary salad. Serve with crusty bread.

salad accompaniment

  • 1 largeish vine tomato
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 chillies
  • 1 lime

Dice the tomato, onion and chillies.

Dress with the juice of a lime.