Lentils and Eggplant with Pomegranate and Crispy Onions | Rummaniyeh

Eggplant and dark lentils are such a paring! We loved them here – this is an extraordinary dish – and we love them in this recipe. When the eggplant is cooked with the lentils it becomes very silky and simply melts into them. This is the joy of Rummaniyeh.

Pomegranates also feature strongly in Rummaniyeh. In fact, Rumman means pomegranate, so this dish’s name, Rummaniyeh, means pomegranatey. Pomegranates are cherished in Palestine – they are an integral part of Palestinian eating, and are regarded as a symbol of abundance and prosperity.  The cheap and easy recipe uses rich, sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and pomegranate kernels (when in season), for a tangy stew in which the eggplants melt into the lentils as they gently simmer. Crispy onions, fried garlic, zingy lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, hot chilli and generous amounts of olive oil are added, to create layers of flavour and transform the primary ingredients.

Today’s recipe had its genesis in the one in Falastin by Tamini. I made some adjustments to make it simpler, with more lentils, and also to get that simmered silkiness of the eggplants.

Eat warm or at room temperature with pitta or tafoon (Middle Eastern flatbread) and a chopped salad. I like a bowl of spiced yoghurt with it. You can serve Rummaniyeh at any time, but it is especially good for breakfast!

Similar recipes include Lentil Stew with Eggplants, Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, and Walnut and Pomegranate Dip.

Browse all of our recipes from Falastin, and all Eggplant dishes.

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Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Yoghurt Sauce

These are some of the most delicious fritters that we have made. The soft bite of the cauliflower with the spices is a warming mouthful that you won’t forget quickly. Here we have served them with yoghurt with short mung sprouts and herbs.

The recipe appears in 2 books from the Ottolenghi family – Falastin by Sami Tamimi, and Ottoleghi by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. They are the sort of fritter you can have for a meal, as a snack (make them smaller), or packed in a lunch or picnic box.  Or shove them into some pitta bread with hummus and tomato for a great afternoon filler with a cuppa tea.

They keep a couple of days in the fridge (think – after school snack), and are best eaten either at room temperature or heated slightly in a warm oven. The batter will also keep a couple of days in the fridge if you want to cook on demand.

“These are not your usual fritters,” says cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi. These are packed with cauliflower and spiced with cinnamon, cumin and turmeric. As a dipping sauce, he serves a spiked Greek yoghurt.

Of course, I have switched out the eggs in Tamimi’s recipe for my usual egg replacer in friters – 1 Tblspn chickpea flour, 1 Tbslpn or a bit less of cream and about 0.25 plain or lemon eno per egg.

Similar recipes include Roasted Cauliflower Tahini Puree, Buckwheat Upma, Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes, Sweet Potato Fritters, Mung Bean Flour Fritters, and Pakora.

Browse all of our Fritter recipes, and all of our Snacks. Our Tamami recipes are here, and the dishes from Falastin are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More.

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Spinach and Toasted Orzo with Green Chilli Yoghurt

There is something about orzo and spinach – it is a much loved combination, there are lots of variations, and it is easy to pull together. Tamimi has a version in Falastin, his book with Palestinian  flavour combinations and recipes. It combines orzo and spinach with a yoghurt-chilli-herb mix. Simple, yes, Divine, also.

The dish can be a dish in a vegetarian meal, a side dish or something akin to a salad. Throw in some feta, black olives and/or chopped tomato if desired.

Similar recipes include: Orzo and Eggplant Bake, Elegant Orzo and Spinach, Chickpea and Orzo Soup, and Rice and Orzo.

Browse all of our Orzo recipes and all of our dishes from Falastin.

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Spicy Baked Black Chickpeas, Eggplants and Tomatoes

Black chickpeas (Kala Chana) are very common in India but not so common outside. There are two types of chickpeas – the larger light tan Kabuli chickpea, the one that is commonly used here, and the variously coloured Desi chickpea. They are green when picked early then vary through tan or beige, to speckled, dark brown and black. 75% of world production is of the smaller desi type. The larger type, also called garbanzo bean was introduced into India in the 18th century.

Desi chana are smaller and darker with a rough coat; its other names include kala chana (black chickpea) or chholaa boot. It is this variety that is hulled and split to make chana dal.

Kala Chana have a dark and earthy taste, and aren’t quite as soft and creamy as their kabuli chana counterpart. But that makes them unique and especially delicious in Wintery dishes.

Today I bake them in a spicy tomato saucy and layered with roasted eggplant and tomatoes. Served with rice, a pickle and a herby yoghurt dish, it makes a wonderful meal. There are similar dishes made with the karbuli type of chickpeas from the Middle East and beyond – Falesten has a recipe for Musaqa’a which is also worth making. This recipe is quite similar.

Similar dishes include Chana Madra, Baked Eggplant with Cheese and Tomatoes, Eggplant and Zucchini Bake with Chickpeas, and Baked Garlicky Eggplant.

Browse all of our Chickpea recipes and all of our Eggplant dishes.

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Na’ama’s Fattoush

Fattoush, as its simplest, is another tomato and bread salad – a common combination around the globe. And as tomato and bread is a very very good basis for a salad; it is no wonder that it is popular. It is also a variety of chopped salad, easy to make, no fuss at all.

Mention Fattoush to anyone from the Middle East to Israel, and  you are likely to find yourself in a discussion (argument?) about the composition of the salad.  Is sumac essential? Should other spices be included? Is garlic necessary? Is the bread to be toasted? Or fried? What is the dressing made of? What herbs are included? How big should the pita pieces be?

It is one of THOSE salads, loved and protected by all who eat it regularly. As mentioned, it is a type of chopped salad with tomatoes and includes pita. A salad that is best when all ingredients are the freshest and best quality available.

Arab salad, chopped salad, Israeli salad – whatever you choose to call it. Wherever you go in the city, at any time of the day, a Jerusalemite is most likely to have a plate of freshly chopped vegetables – tomato, cucumber and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice – served next to whatever else they are having. Friends visiting us in London always complain of feeling they ate ‘unhealthily’ because there wasn’t a fresh salad served with every meal.

Ottolenghi and Tamimi, in their book Jerusalem, have a recipe that comes from Sami’s mother. It is also in Sami’s book Falastin. Sami can’t recall anyone else in the neighbourhood making the recipe this way She called it fattoush, as it includes chopped vegetables and bread. She soaks the untoasted or fried bread in a kind of home-made buttermilk, which makes it terribly comforting. It is a gorgeous salad and the home made buttermilk dressing is wonderful. It does make it quite different to other versions of Fattoush.

Try to get small cucumbers for this as for any other fresh salad. If you need to use the larger, long cucumbers, perhaps remove the seeds before using, if you wish.

Summer purslane, a tangy succulent with fleshy leaves and something of the lamb’s lettuce about it, is commonly found in fattoush in its homelands, and is well worth adding for its lovely lemony flavour. I have included it as we have it growing.

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