I grew up eating a ton of lentils – yellow, green, brown, split, whole. You name the lentil, and it made it to the dinner table in one form or another, either in a soup, mixed into a meat stew, or even fried into light, crisp dumplings. In South Asia, lentils are a staple, and I even as a child, I’ve always LOVED them. They’re hearty, healhty, and they can take on a multitude of flavors and textures. Today I’m sharing a lentil recipe that is not from South Asia, but rather the Middle East (particularly Syria, Jordan, and Palestine). It’s Lentils with Pomegranate Molasses, Sauteed Onions, and Pita Chips.
If you’ve never had pomegranate molasses, then you’re in for a treat. It’s sweet and tart at the same time, and it’s not too assertive while still imparting a savory/sweet flavor to the lentils. I buy a huge container of pure pomegranate juice from Costco and make my own pomegranate molasses, but you can easily buy a good quality one (one without preservatives or added sugar). It’s available in Middle Easter grocery stores and Whole Foods.
While I loved lentils growing up, I’m not sure my husband could say the same thing. He loves meat. And sometimes he feels like lentils, beans, and vegetables, in general, just take up space when he could be eating meat. That is until he started eating Lentils with Pomegranate Molasses, Sauteed Onions, and Pita Chips. He loves the crunch of the pita chips, the slight sweetness from the onions, and the tangy pomegranate molasses.
Traditionally this dish includes some wide-noodles actually mixed into the lentils. My husband and I prefer it without the noodles, making it less traditional. My husband also loves sprinkling some fresh pomegranate seeds on top of his lentils, which is anything but traditional. Another departure from the authentic lentil dish from the Middle East are the pita chips. Usually people fry pita and sprinkle the chips on top (which, by the way is, so delicious!), but since I wanted a healthier option, we eat it with crushed, baked, pita chips straight from the bag.
If you’re not a fan of lentils or you’ve never tried them, I hope you give this recipe a try. It tastes delicious to even the most skeptical non-lentil eaters 🙂
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 4 cups water
- 3 tbs olive oil, divided
- 3 tbs fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 4 medium cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- 3 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 3 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbs pomegranate molasses
- pita chips
- fresh pomegranate seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse and pick over the lentils.
- Place the lentils and water in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan or small pot.
- Boil until lentils are tender, about 40 to 45 minutes. As the lentils break down and the water evaporates, the mixture will thicken.
- While the lentils cook, prepare the onions. In a large frying pan heat 2 tbs of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until soft and golden brown. Set the onions aside while preparing the garlic and cilantro.
- In a small frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Fry the cilantro and garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Fry for only a minute or so.
- Remove the garlic and cilantro.
- Once the lentils are cooked, add 3/4 of the cooked onions, cilantro, and garlic. Reserve the rest as a garnish to serve on top of the lentils.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cumin and pomegranate molasses. Cook for an additional five to ten minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
- To serve, sprinkle with the remaining onions, garlic, and cilantro along with the pita chips and pomegranate seeds.
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Allie | Baking a Moment says
What a fabulous combination of flavors! This dish sounds delicious Aida!
Aida Arain says
Thanks so much Allie! Pomegranate molasses is sort of amazing. It gives foods a depth of flavor and complexity that’s pretty unique and absolutely delicious!
now THIS is lentils made yummy!! 🙂
Aida Arain says
Thanks so much, Nagi! This is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite lentil stews. It’s so good (and easy!).
Dear Aida, I love lentils…the pomegranate really makes this special. What a wonderful dish. xo, Catherine
Aida Arain says
Thanks so such a sweet comment Catherine! The pomegranate does give it a depth of flavor that is really unique and delicious!
I love your incorporation of pomegranate to this savory dish. It looks terrific.
Aida Arain says
Thanks so much, Michelle! Pomegranates are so versatile. They work so well in sweets and savory dishes!