Fasting Makkah residents line up to fill up on fava beans

Fasting Makkah residents stand in long queues in front of shops selling ful (fava beans) in different districts of the holy city

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After a long day of fasting in Ramadan, you may find yourself dreaming of a steaming dish of heart-warming ful, a typically Egyptian dish of fava beans often sprinkled over with lemon juice. If so, join the club as fasting Makkah residents have been standing in snaking queues just to enjoy the dish for iftar, the meal that breaks a day of fasting.

They are eager to purchase ful, which they consider to be a major dish for the breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Without ful, the Ramadan table is considered to be incomplete, the Saudi Gazette reports. It is a meal that is rich in protein and residents of the region have consumed this popular dish for a long time.

From the first few days of Ramadan, the ful selling shops in Makkah witness huge crowds since the late afternoon hours until before the call for Maghreb prayer. The seller keeps stirring the ful and he sells it hot, according to the newspaper.

Customers include Makkah residents, people of different Arab nationalities and from Muslim communities.

They line up under the hot sun with an eagerness to get some ful to share with relatives and friends during iftar.

A Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reporter in Makkah interviewed one of the well-known ful sellers in Makkah — Ahmed Said.

He said ful has been among the famous popular dishes in the Al-Hijaz region for many years. It has a high nutritional value and is easy to prepare. It is sufficient to boil it and add some flavors and spices to make it a tasty dish that is in demand by many people.

What distinguishes one ful shop from the other is the way it has been prepared.

Every ful seller, known as a fawwal, has his own method of preparing the dish.

Every method attracts a certain group of customers, who request the fawwal to add some ingredients.

These include cumin, ghee or olive oil, but ful prepared in the ful pot (jarrah) is the most popular.

Ful is no longer a popular meal that is provided by traditional restaurants, but the best hotels and restaurants compete to prepare it using modern methods different from those of traditional restaurants that are popular among residents.

However, residents believe that ful prepared by traditional restaurants is tastier than that prepared by hotels.

Saudi citizen Hamza Yusuf says he is keen to go early daily to one of the traditional ful selling shops in Makkah in order to purchase a dish prepared in the traditional way.

Fellow citizen Omar Al-Amoudi said having a ful dish during iftar has become a habit in Ramadan.

He said despite suffering from acidity in his stomach sometimes after having the dish, he cannot imagine a Ramadan table without it.

As for Amm Abu Abdullah, his old age has not discouraged him from standing in a queue with other customers to buy a dish of ful.

He always makes sure to fetch the ful himself despite the jostling and crowding at times.

He said this exhaustion disappears the moment he places the dish on the iftar table.

Ahmed Al-Harbi, Saudi citizen, said ful selling shops compete against one another to attract customers and some sellers use attractive mottos to attract customers, often drawing huge crowds. Al-Harbi said ful has a special taste if served hot with different types of bread.

(With the Saudi Gazette/Okaz)