Lentils are so versatile and are used in most cuisines around the world. They are one of those things we always have in our pantries but a lot of the time we end up using them to make the same recipes over and over again. Today we’re going to add two more lentil recipes that are useful to have up our sleeves, especially at a time when we want to minimise our shopping runs.
Lentils are not only delicious, in all their varieties, but they are also a great source of plant-based protein and are high in iron. They also keep our heart healthy, regulate our blood sugar levels, and aid digestion. They are definitely great to keep on hand and can be used in so many dishes, like soups, salads, stews and perhaps one of the most well-known Levantine dish, mujaddara.
First up is a Yemeni lentil dish, simply called Adas, meaning lentils. This is generally eaten for breakfast and is similar to ful but uses lentils instead. I personally prefer this to ful, or fava beans, and regularly had it for breakfast or dinner when I lived in Saudi Arabia. It goes especially well with a popular buttery flatbread in Saudi Arabia known as tamees.
This dish is cooked uncovered and the amount of water you’ll use will depend on how much water your lentils absorb and how thick you’d like them to be. Different brands of lentils cook differently, so keep an eye on your water level. I generally use around 600ml because I like my lentils to be a little loose. As for the spices, just keep giving it a taste and adjust them to your liking. Adas is a great way to use up soft tomatoes that aren’t really firm enough for salad but haven’t gone bad. You could use canned tomatoes, but I feel like fresh ones are lighter and allow the flavour of the lentils to shine, but they are both delicious! I really like to add fresh chillies or chili flakes to this, it adds a nice kick that adds another dimension.
My second dish is Palestinian Adas o Batata, meaning lentils and potatoes, and like many Middle Eastern dishes, the main ingredients are in the name. This dish is particularly popular in Gaza and it is brightened up by the lemon juice and coriander. Depending on how much water you add, you could either make it on the thinner side and eat it with a spoon like soup, or make it thick and scoop it up with bread. Either way, it is delicious!
Adas o batata is really easy to make, but you want to make sure you cut your potatoes into small cubes so that they cook fast. Don’t worry if they start to go soft and mushy, that is what you want for this dish, so you can scoop up the lentils and potatoes together with some bread. Also, add your water gradually and continue to taste it and adjust the seasoning to your liking. To make this dish fresh and zesty, I like to add a generous amount of lemon juice during and after it is cooking, but feel free to add as little or as much lemon as you like.
To take this dish to the next level, make sure you make the garlic and coriander garnish, which you could mix into the dish like me or top it with it. The garlic and coriander work great with the lemon to enhance the lentils and potatoes. This is typically eaten with pita bread, but is delicious with other kinds of bread too.
Either of these lentil dishes is perfect for Iftar or suhoor and will keep you full for a long time. An added bonus is that they are vegetarian and vegan friendly. Make sure you serve them with a variety of olives, pickles, radishes and rocket and I guarantee you won’t be missing meat!
100g red lentils, rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
3 medium tomatoes, blitzed in the blender with 2-3 tbsp water
1 lemon, halved
- In a small pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic. Add the lentils and sauté.
- Add in the spices and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the blitzed tomatoes, 400ml water and juice of half of the lemon.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and cook. Stir regularly and top up with water when needed.
- Once the lentils are cooked and at the right consistency, either blend half of the mixture and add it back to the rest or use an immersion blender to blend parts and leave others whole.
- To serve, pour into a bowl, squeeze the other half of the lemon over it, drizzle with olive oil and top with chopped spring onions.
1 medium potato, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, mashed
½ cup coriander, chopped
- In a small pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions. Add the lentils and sauté.
- Add in the cumin, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes. Add 500ml water, cover and cook on medium heat until lentils are done.
- Once the lentils are cooked, blend them completely either in a blender or using an immersion blender.
- Add the potatoes and some more water if needed and cook covered until the potatoes are done.
- To make the garnish, heat the olive oil in a small pan then add the garlic and coriander. Cook until the garlic starts to brown. Pour immediately into the lentils.
- To serve, pour into a bowl, squeeze the other half of the lemon over it, drizzle with olive oil and top with chopped coriander.