Palestinian Lentil and Pomegranate Stew
By far one of the best things about visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories is the food. The region is a huge melting pot of Middle Eastern, European and African culinary influences and there is something to tantalise your taste buds at every turn. Perhaps best of all though, is the quality of vegetarian fayre on offer. Of course, we all know about great Middle Eastern veggie dishes such as Falafel and Hummus but this filling & delicious lentil stew I found in Palestine is not as famous which is shame as its a perfect example of Palestinian food.
I tried this when dining at a friend’s family home and was so impressed that I had to get the traditional Palestinian recipe. This stew is a great protein & energy rich dish which you can make very cheaply and serve as either a main or a side. Best of all though, if you make a big pot of it you can store it in your fridge or freezer (hint – it tastes even better the next day!)
Anyway, here is Palestinian lentil and Pomegranate Stew.
My quantities will amount to either 2 generous portions served as a main, or 4 portions as a side or part of platter. If you want to make a big pot full for storing then simply double up!
Ingredients (in order of appearance)
125g lentils. I generally use green purely because they are the cheapest ones in the co-op.
1 aubergine, peeled and cut into little squares.
1 half pepper (any colour). Seeded and chopped small.
1 tbsp ground cumin. 300ml water. 1 tbsp salt. 25ml olive oil (feel free to drizzle more before serving).
4 big garlic cloves. Chopped or crushed is fine. 1 lemon. 1 half veg stock cube.
75ml pomegranate molasses*.
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve. Pitta or other middle eastern bread to serve.
*I first came across pomegranate molasses (sauce) in Lebanon and it blew me away. In the UK, you can find it in most supermarkets imported by Odyssa from Turkey. The Odyssa stuff is quite sharp so if you are using this brand then maybe go a little bit lighter on the quantity and also add a little salt to the sauce before adding it to the mix.
- First up, you need to wash and soak the lentils. I run them under a tap in a sieve for about 2 minutes and then I sit the sieve in a saucepan for 20 minutes. If you’re in a rush, you can skip this step but the lentils may not be quite soft enough.
- Then whack the lentils, cumin and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and then continue to boil for 10 minutes. Whilst doing this, chop up the aubergine, pepper and garlic.
- Add the aubergine and salt and leave to simmer for a total 25 minutes.
- Once the lentils and aubergine pan have hit about 20 minutes of cooking, put a frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic until it turns golden. Keep the garlic moving or it may burn.
- Then, add the fried garlic & the pomegranate molasses and stir. Drop the stock cube in and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice and assess consistency. If its watery, cook it a bit more and if not then get ready to serve!
- Toast a few pittas and either chop them into strips or cut into little pitta-pocket sandwiches.
I find this goes really well with natural yoghurt. I also recommend it as bit of a platter with some hummus and olives.