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1/8 Recipe: Lentils

I'm not sure I ever had lentils before coming to Morocco. Not as their own dish. I had a lentil soup - called Moroccan Lentil Soup, in fact - nearly every Tuesday at a sandwich shop called Cosi. I'd go to Cosi on Tuesdays just for the soup.

But lentils not in soup? Lentils as a dish? This was unknown to me.

Then I came to Morocco, and looked for Moroccan Lentil Soup...and could not find it. I was sad.

Then I was assigned to Berberville. In SouqTown, there's a little sandwich place that makes l3ds - lentils. I ordered a plate of l3ds nearly every time I visited SouqTown. (...and there was great rejoicing.)

During Ramadan, though, the chef/owner stopped making l3ds. It's not a Ramadan dish. (...and there was great sadness.) So I flipped through the Peace Corps Cookbook and found a lentils recipe. I didn't have all the ingredients it called for, so I improvised some. The result? Amaaaaazing lentils.

After Ramadan, I went back to SouqTown for l3ds, and was startled to discover that, as good as his lentils are, mine are better. :)

I still get a plate of l3ds nearly every trip, because they're cheap and delicious, but every month or so, I turn on the magic in my kitchen, and there is great rejoicing. ;)

NOTE: The vegetables and spices are all optional, really. This is how I make it. If you don't like zucchini, or if you're cooking for someone who doesn't eat tomatoes, or if black pepper makes you sneeze, feel free to adjust at will. Lentils are very forgiving. Also, this makes a ton of lentils. Since I live in a fridge, I leave the pot on the stove and eat out of it for days, reheating whenever I'm hungry. If you're cooking for only one or two, please cut the recipe.

Without further ado:

Kawtar's Spiced Lentils
3 C lentils
2 L water or stock**
generous pinch of salt (~1-2 T)
3-4 T olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and minced
3 large carrots, chopped
2 large peppers, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 T cinnamon
1 T ground cloves
2 T ginger
1 T black pepper
5 bay leaves
1 T cumin
1/2 T minced chili peppers
1 T worchestershire sauce
2 T soy sauce

Put lentils in large pot with water and salt; bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer. While that cooks, heat olive oil in a skillet. Saute the onions and garlic until the onion begins to color. Add carrots, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes, all chopped to thumbnail size. Add cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper, bay leaves, cumin, and chilis. Stir over low heat for 5 minutes. **If you are making this as a dish, not a soup, pour off most of the water at this point. You want enough to cover the lentils and another 1/2 inch or so of water above that.** Stir sauted mixture into lentils. Let it simmer until the lentils are completely soft, about 30 minutes to an hour. Taste-test it. If it's too spicy, add more cinnamon to cut the bite. If it's not spicy enough, add more of everything else. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Because of the spices, this only gets better with waiting. Feel free to make it hours or a day in advance, and just reheat it before serving.

**To make this a soup, just serve it in bowls. To make it a dish, scoop it with a slotted spoon and serve it on plates. It's fantastic over mashed potatoes.

1 comment:

  1. You don't have a checkbox for "this post made me salivate...."


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