by Angie Booth
I have been making this dish a lot since the recipe was given to me by a friend. I’ve altered the spices and ingredients a little each time and this variation is my current favourite. You can find lots of versions of it online from different countries in the Middle East region and beyond. It’s often served at the end of the day during Ramadan as a nutritious way to break the fast.
The recipe I was given used whole dried limes (called loumi or lumi). You pierce the loumi and put them into the pot whole. When you serve the soup each person gets to squeeze the loumi into their own bowl. If you can get hold of the dried limes I think it makes it more special. However, I wanted to make a version you could make using ingredients found in most basic food stores so I switched the dried lime for fresh ones. Personally, I prefer the taste using fresh ones but you do miss the ‘ceremony’ of everyone squeezing their own limes! Fresh lemon also works well as another alternative.
Some versions I’ve seen add a handful of rice or other grains like barley, while others use more lentils which makes the soup thicker. I’ve added buckwheat noodles to mine. You could use other kinds of thin noodles, or just stick to the lentils and serve it with bread.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 cup of boiled and mashed red lentils (or half red – half yellow lentils)
- 1 finely chopped red onion
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 – 2 tbs ghee or oil
- 1 ltr of (organic) vegetable stock
- 4 fresh tomatoes blended to make 1 cup of fresh tomato juice
- 2 tbs of dried buckwheat noodles or noodles of your choice – optional
- 2 loumi (dried lime) if you have them, or use the zest and the juice of 2 limes
- 2 tbs of fresh chopped coriander
- 1 tsp dried cumin
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- Pinch black pepper
- Pinch of good quality salt
How to make it
- Cook the lentils as per their instructions (depending on your choice of lentil). Roughly mash the lentils once they are cooked.
- Blend the fresh tomatoes to make tomato juice and make the vegetable stock – set these both aside.
- Heat the oil or ghee in a pot, add the chopped onion and cook until soft.
- Add the garlic to the onion and stir until it browns a little. Then stir in the mashed lentils and spices.
- Stir in the tomato juice and vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
- Stir in the noodles and then add in the whole dried limes – or the fresh zest and lime juice.
- Add the coriander saving a little for serving. Cover and leave on a low heat for one minute.
- Remove from the heat and set aside for five minutes.
The temperature of the soup is enough to cook the noodles and to draw out the flavour of the dried limes if you are using them. Serve hot and garnish with more coriander and black pepper.