Pomegranate-cooked Lentils and Aubergines

Also called Rummaniyeh, Rumman means pomegranate, so this dish literally means “pomegranatey” – and aptly so. The recipe uses the fruit’s molasses as well as its seeds, which bodes well for a tangy stew with lentils and aubergine. 

Pomegranates are integral to Palestinian eating, and are regarded across the Middle East as a symbol of abundance and prosperity. Each pomegranate fruit is said to have an extra seed that comes directly from paradise, so it is a cherished fruit. Street hawkers squeeze fresh juice from them; a fluorescent crimson cupful to sip on the fly.

Traditionally, it is eaten with fire-grilled bread, khubez (pitta) or taboon (flatbread). You could eat it at any time of day, it's simple but SO flavourful. 

This recipe was sent to us by the absolute gem, Saumya Gupta, sourced from Falastin: A Cook Book.

Ingredients 

  • 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm dice 
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 150g green or brown lentils
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp fennel seed, roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar 
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tbsp or 80g pomegranate molasses
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste 

For the fried onions,

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced 
  • 400 ml vegetable oil, to fry 
  • 2 tbsp cornflour 

To serve, 

  • 2 red chillies, thinly sliced with seeds 
  • 40g pomegranate seeds
  • 5g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil, to drizzle 

Method

Preheat the oven to 220 degree celsius.

  1. In a large bowl, mix the aubergines with olive oil, salt and pepper. Tip them onto a large parchment lined baking tray, so that the aubergines are well spaced apart. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout. Remove from the oven and sit aside. 
  2. Rinse the lentils and put them in a medium saucepan with water, bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are almost cooked. 
  3. Drain the lentil over a bowl, saving some cooking water for later and set both the lentils and liquid aside. 
  4. To fry the onions, pour oil in a large saute pan, so it rises 3cm up the sides of the pan. Mix the onions and cornflour and, once the oil is hot, carefully add the onions in batches. Fry for 6-7 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. 
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a wire rack lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Continue with the remaining onions in the same way, then set aside. 
  6. Wipe clean the pan (removing oil left from frying, which can be reused) and add olive oil. Place on a medium-high heat and add garlic and chilli. Fry for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is a light golden brown. Add cumin, fennel and coriander, stirring continuously for 30 seconds. 
  7. Stir in the cornflour for a minute, then add the lentils, the reserved cooking liquid, salt and plenty of pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of a thick porridge. 
  8. Add the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, tahini, all the aubergines and half the fried onions. Stir through, then remove from heat. 

To serve, 

Either serve from the pan or transfer to a large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining onions, the parsley, pomegranate seeds and sliced chillies, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil 

 

Reference,

Tamimi, S. and Wigley, T., 2020. Falastin: A Cook Book. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Ebury.

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