Malcolm Jolley finds a $4 dish at a popular Egyptian restaurant.
Foole or Ful is Arabic for fava beans. At Maha’s on Greenwood and Gerrard it costs $4 (plus $1 for bread) and is one of the tastiest dishes I’ve had anywhere for a long time. Foole medames (crushed fava beans) has an analogue in hummus, but at Maha Barsoom’s kitchen it’s transformed as a full meal with tomatoes and onions and spices and herbs and a little pickle. a couple of years ago, before Barsoom opened her restaurant she catered and Jennifer Bain at the Toronto Star published her foole recipe here. It’s tangy and full of umami. It’s light and filling. In Egypt, I read, it’s a staple, eaten at anytime of day, and a cheap nutritious source of protein. It’s put on the menu as a side, but it’s a full meal on it’s own. Not that anyone who actually went to Maha’s would stop at only one dish, the others are too tempting, and equally good. Check out their menu here.
Maha’s if a funny sort of hybrid restaurant. It looks like a slightly Middle-Easternized hipster joint with bare wooden tables, but serves the sort of amazing ethnicky food that bourgeois people like me travel to Scarborough to find under fluorescent lights.In theory it’s a brunch place (and there’s a whole menu page of egg-based dishes, but it’s packed at lunch, and open just late enough (to 7pm on weekdays, except Wednesdays when they are closed all day) for an early supper. It’s very small and good wait is usual. When I went I arrived at about 12:30 and waited for a table for about 45 minutes. This is not how I usually roll, but I don’t regret it.