What Makes Duzan's Foul Madammas So Damn Good?

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Palestinian sandwich shop Duzan makes some of the city's best shawarma, but these days I'm all about their Foul Madammas ($5.95), so much so that I'll sometimes order it, some pita, and pickles and call it a day. So what's going on here?

Foul (pronounced "fool") is the fava bean's funkier, more richly flavored answer to hummus, which starts by stewing favas until they're fall-apart tender but not fully puréed, with broken beans forming a thick sauce. After that it's up to the cook. In Yemen, foul comes soupy, made with onions, olive oil, and a touch of tomato (there was a great version at the now-closed Bab al Yemen). On the streets of Cairo, foul venders cook dried beans overnight, then enrich them with tahini, garlic, cumin, and lemon.

The first thing you notice about Duzan's foul is an abundance of olive oil that kicks up the beans' innate grassiness. Really, it amplifies everything, from the tahini to the garlic to the lemon and the considerable jolt of chili. It's a bean dip in surround sound, big and bold though balanced in its bombast. You'll need some fresh pita to tone it down.

So why does Duzan's foul work so well? Because you think every part of it is going to be too much—until you realize they're exactly where they should be.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the New York editor and ice cream maker in residence at Serious Eats. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

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