Friday, 28 June 2013

Lemon Lentil Soup - Saudi Style

Free of gluten, dairy, and nuts. Vegan friendly. 

In an effort to appease the finicky taste-buds of the Saudi(s) in my life, I began fervently searching for Arab lentil soup recipes online. Of course no matter what I found or how great the reviews were, it was "good" but never "like home". Perplexingly, even when the recipes literally came from the Discover Saudi Arabia website they were under par... Very frustrating. I decided to take matters into my own hands and experiment with spices I was given from Saudi. I came across a spice used in almost everything, referred to mysteriously as "baharat" - very vague when you consider baharat means "spices" in Arabic. Baharat was the key ingredient that my soup was missing, and has revolutionized my lentil soup forever!!

I can hear some of you sigh, "..But where can IIII get baharat?" and really a baharat blend can be obtained from any Middle Eastern food store, but I know sometimes in smaller cities even finding one of these stores can be a challenge, so you could also always click the above link and order off of Amazon! Baharat is also made differently in different countries, so finding the specific Saudi blend used in this recipe might prove to be impossible. However, I found that generally substituting a tablespoon of baharat for a tablespoon of garam masala (available in generic grocery stores) and a teaspoon of curry was a GREAT substitute - the difference was almost indistinguishable.

Yield: 6-7 medium bowls

1 cup red lentil
2 bay leaves
2 medium yellow onions
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic cloves, or more if you love garlic (I use more)
1 carrot
1 potato
½ cucumber
2 small teaspoons baharat blend (or 2 teaspoons garam masala and ½ teaspoon curry)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon dried cilantro
4 lemons
Black pepper and parsley to garnish

Finely chop onions.

Soak the lentils for about 30 minutes. Boil them in a large pot with the bay leaves with 2½ cups of water.

While the lentils are boiling, fry onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add them to the pot.

Chop carrot, potato and cucumber into bite-sized pieces. The soup will be pureed in the end, but chopping them small will allow them to soften more quickly. Add them to the pot with another 2½ cups of water. Set the burner on a low boil and cover for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add all the spices - salt, baharat, oregano and cilantro, also adding 1 cup of water. Cover again and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Puree the soup. I use a blender and it works great, in fact that exact amount of soup will perfectly fit into a generic-sized blender.

Cut the lemons in half and remove the seeds. As you portion the soup, stir in the juice from half a lemon into each bowl. It adds a great complimentary flavour, but the soup still tastes fantastic without it.

Garnish with pepper and parsley.


Post by McKayla

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