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Lentil and Meat Stew - Yakhnit  ‘Adas bil Laham

posted on: Jul 9, 2024

Source: Wikimedia Commons

By: Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing Writer

Because of their many healthy attributes, in parts of the Middle East lentils are described as the ‘nails of the knees’.  In other parts they are referred to as the ‘meat of the poor’, while others, following traditional folklore call them ‘food of prophets and saints’.

Until now, lentils are considered an inexpensive pulse, popular amongst the peasants and associated with those of lesser means.  They have always been deemed the quintessential nutritious food that could guarantee a good and healthy meal to any dish to which they were added.  Historically, they were not a food of luxury yet were so important in the diet of the Arabs that dishes made with lentils appear in the medieval Arabic cookbooks, these cooking manuals designated to the kitchens of upper society.  The addition of meat to a simple dish of lentil stew made the rounds on the dining tables of caliphs and nobility alike.

Serves 8

4 tablespoons butter

1/2-pound beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped 

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed 

6 cups water 

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes 

4 medium tomatoes, chopped 

1 1/2 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon ground cumin 

1 teaspoon black pepper 

1 teaspoon turmeric

Melt butter in a saucepan then sauté beef over medium/low heat for 5 minutes.  Add onion, garlic and hot pepper, then sauté for a further 10 minutes, stirring often.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil then cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour or until meat and lentils are well-done, adding more water if necessary.  

Serve hot with cooked rice.

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