Saturday, November 26, 2011

Persian Lentil Soup and Abgusht

My friend Eliza recently gave me a book to read called 'Pomegranate Soup' by Marsha Mehran. It contained many delicious Persian recipes within the story of the personal journeys of three sisters who escape Iran on the eve of the revolution and eventually make their way to Ireland. This book was not hard to read so is a nice one to relax to and let yourself imagine the tastes of the warm Persian meals. It was magical and enchanting... with the village people smelling the sweet spices of cinnamon, cardamom and rosewater wafting down their main street as they walked home from work or school. The recipes are quite different from any I have encountered before, so we decided to have a Persian night to cook three of them. Sal, Eliza and I cooked together. Eliza made the Red Lentil Soup for our starter the night before so we would have enough time. We chose "Abgusht" a lamb dish and "Baklava" a sticky aromatic pastry for dessert. We found them to be delightful.

Red Lentil Soup

2 cups dry red lentils
7 large onions, chopped
7 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp turneric
4 tsp cumin
olive oil
7 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
salt and pepper
2 tbsp nigella seeds

Cover lentils with water and bring to boil. Cook for 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Fry 6 onions, garlic, turmeric and cumin in some olive oil till golden.
Add lentils, broth, water, salt, pepper and nigella seeds. Bring to Boil
Simmer gently for 40minutes.
Meanwhile, fry remaining onion in some olive oil till crisp for garnish.
Serve soup with fried onion and some natural yoghurt sprinkled with more nigella seeds.
Coriander also tastes really nice as a fresh garnish.


5 large onions, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 2kg boned leg of lamb, save bone
10 cups of water
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed twice
1 tsp paprika
4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 large potatoes, peeled, quartered
7 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 dried lime
pinch of saffron in 7 tbsp hot water
2 tsp advieh*

* equal amounts of crushed organic rose petals, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin

In a large stockpot (cast iron enamelled pot works well) add olive oil, onion and turmeric and fry for a few minutes, then add the lamb and brown all over.
Add water, split peas, paprika and bone. Bring to boil. Lower heat (or place in overn at approximately 165 degrees C) and simmer covered for 2 hours.
Add remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.
Remove bone. Remove all meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and place into a separate bowl for mashing. This allows some lentils to remain in the broth.
Mash the vegetables with the meat and serve each person a scoop of mash and a separate bowl of broth.
We served the mash on top of a little broth.
Garnish with yoghurt and coriander or tarragon leaves.
We had ciabatta I made with nigella seeds (see olive oil bread recipe) to wipe our bowls clean!

Go to recipe for Baklava.

Thanks Eliza and Sal for cooking with me, it was such a delicious meal.

1 comment:

  1. HI Rach I looked up Nigella seeds:
    The seeds of N. sativa, known as kalonji, black cumin (though this can also refer to Bunium persicum), onion seed or just nigella, are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The dry roasted nigella seeds flavor curries, vegetables and pulses. The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper and oregano, and have a bitterness to them like mustard seeds. It can be used as a "pepper" in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads and poultry." !!!!!!! I'd never heard of them before!!! Sounds great: I'll try this recipe also.
    love mum