Fava beans are one of Sudan’s most popular and treasured foods. In Khartoum, people usually have a fava beans dish for breakfast and often for supper as well. Lots of Sudanese from all walks of life prefer to start their day with foul - fava beans - as they are cheap, nutritious, and delicious.
Foul is made by boiling the fava beans for long time in a pressure cooker, with sometimes the addition of other ingredients. After cooking it is served by adding cheese, salt, olive or peanut oil, and occasionally a sprinkling of herbs. Usually foul is served with falafel, and together with bread they form a perfect meal.
Another dish made with foul is called boash, which is a mix of pieces of bread, foul, cheese, chopped onions, yogurt, sesame or peanut oil, tomato, garlic and a list of other ingredients depending on individual preference. Boash is very popular among college students and labourers, but almost everyone likes to have a delicious dish of boash once in a while.
The nutrition specialist Ibtisam Mohamed, based in Saudi Arabia, says that although fava beans are a great source of energy at breakfast, and also contain a large amount of protein, it is also important to have a variety of foods on a daily basis.
Kamal Omer is a small restaurant owner in the north of Khartoum. He serves foul, falafel and grilled meat daily for breakfast and says that his regular customers are mainly workers and college students. “I’ve been working here for almost a decade now, and with the cost of everything getting higher we’ve tried to keep our prices as reasonable as possible so our customers can afford them, since most of them have a low income.”
“I tried to expand and provide more dishes, but it didn’t work out as people mostly prefer to stick to their daily budget, but I am satisfied with my work and I thank god for what I have.”
Hassan, a mechanic who frequents Kamal’s restaurant says: “I come here every day with my fellow workers for breakfast. The food here is affordable and well-prepared, it gives me the energy I need to continue my work, and it keeps me feeling full until the end of the day when I go home.”
Khartoum has many restaurants like Kamal’s that specialize in foul, serving breakfast and supper only. Some, identifiable by long queues outside, are very famous, especially the ones that serve boash with the addition of their own secret ingredients.
Foul is not only found in restaurants: it is available in almost every small shop in neighbourhoods across the country twice a day, in the morning and evening.
Another way to serve foul is by adding tomato sauce, garlic, salad and peanut oil after buying it ready-boiled. In this case it is called ‘home cooked foul.”
In Sudan people usually call peanuts “Sudanese Foul” and fava beans “Egyptian Foul”, but due to the widespread popularity, good taste and availability of foul, there is also a special name for it, which translates as “The Beloved of the People.”