The other day, my friend Dominique posted a suggestion on my Facebook wall: “you should do a post about lupini beans”, she wrote. “I’ve been in the process of making some for a few days now and am so excited to snack on them!” I grew up eating tirmis (lupini beans soaked and packed in brine) only on occasion, and I hadn’t snacked on any recently, so I asked if she could write up the recipe, and we can feature it on midEATS. Within 24 hours, Dominique had sent her recipe, pictures and all!
Tirmis: The Ultimate Egyptian Snack
If you’re wondering what makes lupini beans an Egyptian snack, you’re not alone. Lupini beans sound Italian … because they are! They’re native to the Mediterranean region and have been cultivated in South America for thousands of years. But that hasn’t stopped Egyptians from claiming them as a favorite national snack either. Besides toasted pumpkin seeds, tirmis is one of Egypt’s most ubiquitous street foods. For hilarious Egyptian-inspired tirmis humor, check out this letter written by Sarah of Buttered Up entitled “Tirmis on My Terms”; here’s a snippet:
Couldn’t you feel my yearning, my longing, my need to run up to the hand-drawn tirmis cart on the street and let Tirmis Man give me a paper cone full of yellow you? According to Mommy, Tirmis Man who sold you wasn’t very clean and neither was his cart so in turn, you weren’t either. I couldn’t meet you on the street like other kids either. No siree, not me. Especially after my cousin’s husband entertained us with a story about how the people who prepare you by the Nile supposedly pee on you to get rid of your bitterness and add that extra saltiness we collectively crave as Egyptians (Buttered Up).
Yep, I’ve heard the pee rumor too — not entirely sure if it’s true of the tirmis sold on all street carts in Egypt, but I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way. I’ll opt for the at-home preparation method, thankyouverymuch!
Why Do Lupini Beans Have to Be Soaked?
An article I came across when searching for lupini beans called it “the ultimate slow food”. Hah – she got that right! Yes, these legumes are tasty, but yes, you do need to soak, rinse, repeat for as long as two weeks until they’ve gotten rid of their bitterness. If you guys read this blog regularly, you know that we’re fans of soaking legumes. Legumes, grains, nuts and seeds have high levels of antinutrients that may block the absorption of nutrients and vitamins in other foods that we consume. Taming these little antinutrient beasts into submission involves submerging them in filtered water — usually overnight — either with a little bit of unrefined salt (in the case of nuts and seeds) or a tablespoon or two of acidic liquid like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (in the case of legumes and grains). For lupini beans specifically, the bitter taste likely comes from its high alkaloid content. So in the case of lupini beans, soaking to “debitter” them isn’t really an option; it’s a necessity — especially if you want to avoid lupini toxicity (no, I’m not joking – there really is such a thing as lupin poisoning!)
Go on – pick up some dried lupini beans next time you’re at your health food store, a Middle Eastern store or Italian market. Make a game out of the soaking time, and when they’re done, relax in front of your favorite sitcom, and snack away on the salty goodness that is tirmis!
– Heba of MidEATS
Recreating the Tirmis Experience
By Dominique Farag
I have a ton of memories that I cherish from my childhood back in Egypt, and New Year’s Eve every year is definitely on the top of that list. I remember the gatherings with family friends where the grown ups chatted and the kids had a blast; I remember the food and the snacks and the hours spent waiting for the clock to reach midnight so we can scream out loud and wish each other “Happy New Year”.
Ironically enough, what I remember most from those countless New Year Eves is sitting around my parents and snacking on lupini beans (tirmis). I can’t remember the last time I had them; last New Year’s Eve when those memories came to me once again, it dawned on me that it’s been so long since I’ve last eaten them. So, I decided to start my quest for lupini beans and just make them myself. I mean, how hard could it be?
After asking here and there, I realized that the local Egyptian church sells bags of dried lupini beans. I bought a bag, and that’s when the process began. As a child you never think about how long it takes people to make delicious food; you’re just happy it’s there. Making lupini beans is indeed a lengthy process, but I can guarantee you that you won’t regret it!
In case you need some extra encouragement to start making your own lupini beans, check out some of the health benefits you can receive from snacking on these. They’re one of the most protein-rich legumes out there!
Egyptian Tirmis Recipe (Salted Lupini Beans with Olive Oil and Seasonings)
Prep Time: 5 days – 2 weeks
Cook Time: 1-2 hours
Keywords: boil pickle/ferment snack gluten-free nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian lupini beans Sham El Nessim Italian Egyptian
- Dried lupini beans (tirmis), soaked and rinsed multiple times for 5 days to two weeks, until they’ve lost their bitterness
- Filtered water for soaking and boiling
- Unrefined mineral salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh lemon or lime juice
- Organic ground cumin (optional)
- Other seasonings of choice, such as basil, rosemary, sage, etc (optional)
(1) Soak the beans: Start by placing the beans in a pot of filtered water and soak for 24 hours. Make sure the pot is large enough because the beans tend to get bigger the longer they stay in the water.
(2) Drain and boil the beans: After 24 hours or so, drain the beans. Refill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. Simmer for an hour – 2 hours.
(3) Soak, rinse, repeat: Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a container and fill it with water. Now here’s where the process can get tiring; the water in the container will have to be changed at least a couple of times a day for at least 5 days and for up to 2 weeks. The length of time for soaking will depend on the kind of lupini beans you ended up with — some types are more bitter than others, so I would suggest tasting a couple every day after the 5th day to see when the beans have completely lost their bitterness.
(4) Store the beans in water: Once all the bitterness is gone, rinse the lupini beans well, and store them in lightly salted water in a closed glass container in the fridge; the beans won’t go bad for weeks.
(5) Add seasonings if you wish: When you’re ready for a delicious snack, take some out of the container; add some olive oil, some cumin and fresh lemon juice et voila! Enjoy! Please note that if you’re not a fan of cumin, you’re welcome to add parsley, rosemary, sage or any other herb or spice that you love instead.
(6) Eat: Take a bean, bite into the skin surrounding the bean, squeeze the bottom of the skin and pop the bean right into your mouth. Be careful not to pop the bean onto the floor or let it fly across the table (bound to happen when you’re first practicing with the beans). After a couple of bite-squeeze-pops, you’ll be a master, and will be enjoying a handful as a salty snack whenever you’re in the mood.
Dominique is an Egyptian-American who moved to the US in 2007. For the longest time, she hated the idea of spending time in the kitchen until she randomly started stumbling upon delicious recipes and food blogs online. Once her younger sister moved in with her in 2010, Dominique took it upon herself to provide them both with delicious home-cooked food and started experimenting in the kitchen. Every once in a while when they both crave Egyptian food, Dominique randomly tries to recreate a dish with the help of Google. Thank God for the ton of pescetarian dishes out there!