As you know, my husband recently had open heart surgery, and before we left the hospital, the doctor told him that for one month or so, he could eat anything he wants. After that, my husband and I will both go on a heart healthy diet, but for now, the doctor wants him to eat anything he desires, just to build back up his strength. So just imagine if you were given the go ahead to eat whatever you wanted, what would you eat? Well, my list would definitely contain dark chocolate, mashed potatoes, crab, steak, cheesecake, cashews, Crispy Creme Donuts, coconut creme pie, and Cheetos! Hmmm ... seems like an awful lot of those foods start with the letter "C" ... wonder what that means? Anyway, what would you have on your list?
Adnan has always been a healthy eater and doesn't crave sweets the way I do. And since the surgery, he hasn’t had much of an appetite, but the one decadent thing that he requested was a special dish here made with animal fat called “foul wu semn” (beans with animal fat). We enjoy eating the “poor man’s breakfast” here in Saudi Arabia, which consists of a regional bean dish called foul (pronounced fool) and wonderful flatbread which is called tameez. It’s very filling and quite tasty.
Every morning these tiny shops that pretty much only make and sell foul and tameez are bustling with male customers, most of them hard laborers starting their day. Oftentimes there is a crowd five men deep. This breakfast which will easily serve 3-4 people costs a total of 3 riyals, which is about US 75 cents. I had always waited in the car whenever Adnan got this for us for breakfast, but recently I went in to take a look at one of the little shops that sells foul and tameez.
The foul is generally accompanied with extra sauce (similar to salsa) to spice it up to your liking. Other spices are also added. Adnan usually likes to add olive oil as well. The foul is slow cooked in a huge round balloon shaped metal pot which is tilted over a charcoal burner.
Because the opening is so small and the pot is so big, a special spoon with an extremely long handle is required to stir the beans and extract them. The specially melted animal fat (I believe it is from goat) is a rich clear golden yellow color and is added to the foul to enhance the flavor.
Depending on which country the tameez maker is from, the flatbread can vary in size, consistency, and flavor. Most tameez that I have seen is at least the size of a large pizza in diameter.
Some are sprinkled with blackened sesame seeds, some have lines made with a spoked wheel running across them, and others are thicker and almost rubbery, but in a good way.
The tameez is baked in a huge tiled igloo-shaped oven and special long instruments are needed to flip and retrieve the tameez when it’s done. You can also order tameez which is filled with cheese.
Foul and tameez is one of the fabulous ethnic foods available in KSA that I have come to love.