Hora’a Osbao – Syrian Lentil Stew

An absolutely incredible dish originating from Syria. I had it for the first time last year by chance, and had to ask what the name was, it was so amazing. It’s a fair amount of work, but the results are by far worth it.

According to my roommate, this is often served as a side dish, but it’s more than filling enough to serve as the main course!

This dish uses pomegranate molasses, also called dibis ramman, which was an entirely new ingredient to me. It’s tangy, sweet, and just flat-out delicious. My local grocery store carries it, but you might have to make the trek to a Middle-Eastern market to find it! If you can only find grape molasses (which has a similar flavour profile), you can use that in a pinch.

If you use gluten-free pasta, this dish can be gluten-free.

Prep time: ~1.5 hours.
Serves: 6-8, generously.

Ingredients:

  • 5 large white onions, peeled and cut into thin slices.
  • 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying the onions)
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed/minced.
  • 1 bunch coriander, half finely chopped, half with the leaves removed from the stems.
  • 2 pieces Arabic bread (pita works well), cut into small cubes.
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed well.
  • 8 cups water.
  • 6 tsp cumin.
  • 150 grams fettuccine (or similar pasta).
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses.
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice.
  • 1 tbsp sugar.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • pomegranate seeds, to garnish.

Cooking Instructions:

Start off by heating 2 cups of oil in a large saucepan or pot on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough that an onion slice starts to bubble when dropped in, but doesn’t go brown right away, add in all the onions.

Stir occasionally, and cook until browned and crispy, 25-35 minutes. Remove from the oil, pat off the excess oil with paper towels, and set them aside to cool.

While the onions cook, preheat the oven as hot as it will go. Toss the bread pieces with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, until they’re nicely coated, then spread on a tray and bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted and brown. Set the croutons aside to cool.

Place your lentils in a large pot with the water and cumin, and place the pot on high heat. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down until they’re just simmering. Cook for 30 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, heat a small pan on medium heat. When hot, add 2 tsp olive oil and the garlic. Turn the heat down to low immediately, and cook the garlic, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add in the chopped coriander, then turn off the heat, but keep the pan on the stove. Stir occasionally until it begins to cool down, then set aside. This is called the “takliye”.

Cook your pasta for half the time specified on the package, then drain the pasta, but reserve 3 cups of the pasta water.

Once the lentils have been simmering for 30 minutes, add in half of the pasta water, an all of the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir well until combined.

Add the pasta, 2/3 of the crispy onions, and all of the takliye, stir well, and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, and taste to see if the lentils are done. If they’re still too firm, add some more of the pasta water and let simmer for a few minutes longer.

When the lentils are cooked and the stew has a nice, thick consistency, stir in the last coriander leaves. If you are serving this for others, place in a large serving dish and allow to cool slightly, then top with the croutons, pomegranate seeds,, and the remaining onions.

This dish can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

 

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Mulligatawny

An English soup, based off of an old Indian recipe. The name comes from the Tamil words “Milaku”, meaning pepper, and “Tannir”, meaning water.

This soup often has rice in it, but I personally prefer to use red lentils – they add a nice colour to the soup, and they’re chock full of nutrients!

You can puree this soup if desired, but I personally prefer to leave it as is.

Prep time: ~60 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mild vegetable oil.
  • 1 onion, sliced into thin strips.
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced.
  • 1 zucchini, diced.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed/minced.
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely diced (or grated).
  • 2 small apples, peeled if desired, cubed.
  • 1 can tomatoes.
  • 2 tsp curry powder.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika.
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg.
  • 1 tsp crushed red peppers (or to taste).
  • 1/2 cup red lentils (uncooked).
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (you may want more).
  • 1 can coconut milk.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander, to garnish.

Cooking Instructions:

 Place a large pot on medium heat, and add in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, zucchini, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the onions become soft and translucent. Next, add the ginger and the apples. Stir well, and cook for a few more minutes.
Dump in the tomatoes, along with all of your spices. Stir well, making sure the spices have been mixed throughout evenly. Now add in the lentils and your vegetable stock.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. When the lentils are cooked and the vegetables are soft, stir in the coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper, then serve piping hot, with a sprig of fresh coriander on top.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

A simple dish that lends itself quite well to weeknights – most of the time it takes to cook this dish is in the oven, so there’s minimal time spent hovering around the stove waiting for it to cook!

You can also make the filling a few days in advance, then just hollow out the peppers, fill them, and pop them in the oven.

Prep time: ~60 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed/minced.
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup rice, rinsed well to remove excess starch.
  • 2/3 cup lentils, rinsed well.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes, sliced, with the juice reserved.
  • 1 handful fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried).
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 4 large bell peppers.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350F (180C)

Cook your rice and lentils. I like to cook them together in the same pot, but you can cook them separately if you like.

Heat a large frying pan on medium-low heat with the olive oil in it. Once the oil is hot, add the onion along with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften. Add the garlic, and reduce the heat slightly. Continue cooking, stirring every so often, until they begin to caramelize.

While the onions and garlic cook, cut the tops off of your peppers and hollow them out, being careful not to poke holes in them. I like to chop up the excess pepper bits and add them to the filling. Wrap the bottoms of the peppers with tinfoil, and place them in a large roasting dish. Make sure they’re stable and won’t fall over!

Add the leftover pepper bits to the onion and garlic, if you like, and continue cooking. Once the onions are lovely and caramelized, go ahead and dump in the tomatoes and oregano. Stir well to combine, then bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

When the rice and lentils are done, add everything to a large bowl and mix well. Spoon the filling into the peppers, making sure to fill them right to the brim. Drizzle the peppers with a bit of olive oil, then pop them in the oven for approx. 40 minutes, until the peppers are soft.

Serve right away, and enjoy!

 

Red Lentil Dhal

A slow-cooked lentil stew of Indian origin, this dish is great to cook in large batches. It can be eaten on its own for a light meal, or served as a side dish or appetizer with other curries and the like. Very tasty, and even better served with naan.

Prep time: ~90 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed/minced.
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus some to taste.
  • approx 250 g red lentils, well-rinsed.
  • 6 cups vegetable stock.
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced.
  • 2 large carrots, peeled if desired, finely sliced.
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced.
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander (cilantro).
  • 1 tsp ground cumin.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium-low heat. Add your onion, garlic, and salt. Caramelize for approx. 40 minutes, until the onion and garlic are very soft and sweet.

about 20 minutes into this, start cooking your lentils in a pot with the stock, and microwave the carrots, bell pepper, and celery in a bowl of water until they start to become tender, about 15 minutes.

When the lentils are ready, add them along with the rest of the vegetables into the onion pot, stirring well to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add your fresh coriander and cumin. Raise the heat slightly, until the soup is gently simmering, and cook for at least an hour.

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

Yet another great recipe for fall and winter. I’ve got a long, cold season ahead of me, and I thrive off of soups and stews in the winter. This soup uses brown lentils, which can be kind of bland on their own, with a bunch of other vegetables to add plenty of flavour and nutrition! I recommend serving with bread.

Prep time: ~60 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 4 leeks (use the white and light green parts, not the dark green parts), cut into thin half-moons.
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced.
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, sliced, with the juice reserved.
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock.
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces.
  • 1 bunch kale (thick stems removed), sliced into strips.
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, removed from the woody stems.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the leeks and celery and cook until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, lentils, kale, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for approx 30 minutes, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.

Shepherd’s Pie

Delicious and filling, this stuff is real comfort food. This dish uses a base of lentils, carrots, corn, and tomatoes, and is topped with delicious, fluffy mashed potatoes. Finish it off in the oven for a little bit of crunch on the top, and you’ve got yourself a super yummy dinner!

Shepherd’s pie is great fresh, but is just as good (if not better) after a night in the fridge, when all the flavors have had a chance to meld together nicely.

Prep time: ~60 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed.
  • 2 cups brown or green lentils, cooked.
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes, tomatoes sliced, with the juice reserved.
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 tsp each dried thyme and dried rosemary.
  • 6-8 cups chopped potatoes, peeled if desired.
  • 1-2 tbsp mild oil.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Meanwhile, get your potatoes boiling in a large pot. (for more tips on making great mashed potatoes, see my post on Mashed Potatoes!).

While your potatoes are cooking, get another pot heating up on the stove on medium heat. Add in your olive oil, and when hot, toss in your onions and garlic. Cook until soft and fragrant, then add in your corn and dried herbs. Stir well, allowing the corn to thaw, and then add in your tomatoes with their juice. Stir until combined, and then add in the lentils, stirring them in as well. Cook for at least 15 minutes, until the mixture is nice and thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Once your potatoes are ready, mash them, adding in the oil and seasoning them as you go.

Prepare a large, deep baking dish by greasing it lightly with oil. Next, pour in your lentil mixture, leaving plenty of room at the top for your potatoes. Then spread the potatoes over the top in a nice, thick, even layer.

Place a baking sheet in the oven underneath the dish the shepherd’s pie is in, to catch any overflow or spills (learned this one the hard way). Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned and crispy on the top. Serve piping hot.

Death Pasta

So named because it is incredibly filling, and eating too much will leave you in a food coma. Another recipe I learned from Amr (Elaine’s boyfriend). Very delicious, despite the dangers of overindulging in this dish, and sort of like a vegan pasta bolognaise. Also quite healthy! This dish can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.

Prep time: ~40 minutes
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free pasta)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, cooked.
  • 1 can beans, drained and rinsed (black beans are best, but use whatever beans you like!)
  • 400 g pasta/gluten-free pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced.
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced.
  • 1 large onion, chopped.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed.
  • 1 can tomatoes, pureed.
  • 2 tsp Baharat (see Spices for the recipe!).
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to taste.
  • 1 small handful fresh basil, shredded, or 1 tsp dried basil.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Next add the garlic, and cook until both onions and garlic are soft and fragrant.

Add the carrots and celery, and cook with the lid on until the carrots begin to soften. Next, toss in all the lentils, and give it all a good stir. Add in the tomatoes and Middle Eastern spice mix and stir well.

Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Toss in the basil, beans, red pepper flakes or hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Continue to stir and let simmer for as long as you want, but at least until the carrots are thoroughly cooked.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, drain, and toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together. Serve hot, and don’t eat too much! Seriously, don’t eat too much.

Koshari

Also spelled Kushari. A traditional Egyptian dish that I learned from my sister’s boyfriend. An incredibly filling, tasty dish that uses very inexpensive ingredients, so if you’re on a budget, this is a great option!

Just as yummy leftover as it is fresh. This dish can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.

Prep time: ~1 hour
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free pasta)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice, rinsed.
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed.
  • 2 tsp Baharat, aka Middle-Eastern 6 spice mix. See the recipe I have on this blog, under spices!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 large onion, half chopped, half thinly sliced.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes.
  • 1 tsp vinegar.
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to taste.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 400 grams macaroni or other short pasta/gluten-free pasta.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the rice, lentils, and spice mix in a pot or a rice cooker with 4 cups water, a pinch of salt, and a dash of oil, and cook until tender.

Fry the chopped half of the onion in a large pot in the olive oil until soft, add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using them) and cook until fragrant. Puree the tomatoes and add to the pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat until simmering. Add the vinegar and hot sauce (if using it), season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, and strain, tossing with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.

Prepare a small frying pan with enough olive oil to comfortably cover the bottom, heat until just below the smoke point. Lightly salt the sliced onion and press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then fry in the oil until browned and crispy.

Serve in layers: the rice-lentil mix on the bottom, the pasta, the sauce, and then the onions. Use up all the crispy onions while this dish is fresh, they’re no good when refrigerated.

Cabbage Rolls

This is a rather time-consuming dish, but easy to make in bulk. It’s good to make if you’re having friends around for food, or if you want to have lunch for the rest of the week! These rolls can be made beforehand, frozen, and then finished off in the oven if you don’t have enough time to do it all at once.

Traditionally, cabbage rolls are made with ground beef or pork, but I’ve replaced that with lentils and walnuts for extra flavor and nutrition. Lentils are extremely nutritious, full of fiber, protein, and iron, which are all very important, especially if you’re on a meatless diet.

Prep Time: ~120 minutes

Gluten-free

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 16 large cabbage leaves, washed.
  • A whole lotta toothpicks
  • 2 cans of whole tomatoes.
  • 1 onion, chopped.
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced.
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds, crushed.
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Filling:

  • 2 cups rice, cooked and cooled.
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, cooked and cooled.
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed.
  • 2 tsp olive oil.
  • 2 onions, chopped.
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme.
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper.
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped.
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh (or 1 tsp dried) dill.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Fill a large pot with water, salt lightly, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add in your cabbage leaves a few at a time. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until soft and flexible. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce: Place a large pot on medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot, toss in the onion and garlic, saute until soft and translucent. Next, add the caraway seeds and brown sugar, stir until well combined. Puree the tomatoes, then add to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the whole pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to cook for at least half an hour.

For the filling: In a skillet or frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute until soft. Toss in the thyme, cayenne, parsley, and dill, and stir well. Once combined, take off the heat. Place into a large bowl with the rice, lentils, and walnuts. Mix thoroughly, and season well with salt and pepper.

Place a heaping spoon or two of the filling into each cabbage leaf. fold the edges of the leaf over, then use a toothpick (or two or three) to seal it shut. Place into a roasting dish (lined with foil for easy cleanup). When all the cabbage leaves are filled and in the tray, pour several ladles of tomato sauce over the rolls.

Pop the roasting dish into the oven for an hour, then take out the cabbage rolls, and serve!