Recipes are more than just a list of ingredients; they are stories, memories, and a testament to the resilience of those who’ve handed them down through the generations. “Let’s Cook for Gaza” aims to shed light on the rich traditions of the from Gaza.
Rummaniyeh is a cherished dish that holds a deep and nostalgic significance for many. This special recipe, shared by Heba Mootassem, is a comforting dish made with lentils, eggplant, and pomegranate molasses, which was passed down to her from her Gazan mother-in-law. Originating from the vibrant heart of Gaza, where both her mother and father-in-law were born, this dish tells a story of resilience, strength, and the steadfast spirit of the Palestinian people. Heba’s mother-in-law, who relocated to Qatar in her twenties after marriage, had witnessed many atrocities during her time in Gaza, including the 1967 war. It is a special recipe that reminded her of her childhood and kept her connected with the memories of her mother, whom she lost at the age of 10, and the traditions of her community that gives her strength.
Rummaniyeh was prepared as a practical yet delicious dish. The lentils ensured that the dish was brimming with nutrients, and the eggplant, cut into large chunks, was used to mimic the texture of meat, making the dish not only nutritious but also hearty and satisfying.
In every spoonful of Rummaniyeh and the many dishes that tell the tales of Gaza, there lies a message of hope. Hope that the stories of resilience, love, and tradition will continue to be passed down, binding generations together. And hope that, through shared meals and memories, understanding and unity can be fostered among all people, leading to a brighter and more harmonious future.
Basic Ingredients for Rummaniyeh (Lentil Eggplant Stew)
Onions: Provide a sweet and savoury base, adding depth and richness to the dish.
Brown Lentils: A source of protein and texture, giving the dish its hearty feel.
Cumin: Adds warmth and a slightly spicy note, enhancing the flavour profile.
Eggplants: They provide a meaty texture and absorb flavours well, adding bulk to the dish.
Pomegranate Molasses: Gives a tangy and sweet flavour, enhancing the overall taste.
Tahini Paste: Provides creaminess and a nutty flavour, balancing the tanginess of the molasses.
Flour: Acts as a thickening agent, giving the dish its desired consistency.
Sugar: Balances the acidity of the pomegranate molasses, adding a touch of sweetness.
Dill Seeds: An important ingredient in the Gazan kitchen, it give the food a fresh and slightly bitter taste.
Garlic: Adds a pungent depth, complementing the other flavours.
Green Chili: Provides a fresh kick and elevates the dish’s spiciness.
Red Chili Flakes: For those who prefer an extra spicy touch.
Pomegranate Jewels: Adds a burst of sweetness and colour.
Fresh Parsley: Introduces a fresh herbaceous note.
Onions: Shallots or leeks.
Brown Lentils: Green or red lentils.
Pomegranate Molasses: Reduced cranberry juice with a touch of honey.
Tahini Paste: Ground sesame seeds or almond butter.
Flour: Cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
Sugar: Honey or agave syrup.
Dill Seeds: Fennel seeds.
Garlic: Garlic powder.
Green Chili: Jalapeño or serrano peppers.
Preparation Tips for Rummaniyeh (Lentil Eggplant Stew)
- Ensure lentils are rinsed thoroughly to remove any debris.
- Partially peel eggplants in alternating strips to retain some skin for texture.
- Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl before adding to ensure even distribution.
Serving Tips for Rummaniyeh (Lentil Eggplant Stew)
- Serve with a side of Arabic bread to scoop up the delicious Rummaniyeh.
- Accompany with fresh green onions, pickles, and chilli peppers for added flavour and crunch.
- Drizzle with a bit of olive oil or sprinkle some sumac for an extra layer of taste.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheat on the stovetop, adding a bit of water if it has thickened too much.
- Garnish only before serving to keep the freshness intact.
Rummaniyeh (Lentil Eggplant Stew)
- 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2-3 medium-sized eggplants, peeled and cubed
- ½ cup pomegranate molasses
- ⅓ cup tahini paste
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp dill seeds
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 green chili, seeds removed and minced
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes, (optional)
- extra virgin olive oil
- pomegranate seeds
- fresh parsley seeds
- Heat half a cup of olive oil in a medium pan. Fry the onions until they turn golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onions to paper towels, draining excess oil. Keep the fried onion aside.
- In a pot on medium heat, combine the lentils and 3 cups of cold water, and season with cumin powder. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, ensuring the lentils remain semi-cooked.
- Peel the eggplants in vertical strips from the stem end to the bottom, ensuring you alternate between peeled and unpeeled sections around the entire circumference of the eggplant. This will give it a striped appearance. Cut the eggplant into cubes. Add the cubed eggplants to the pot with the lentils and continue simmering until the eggplants have softened.
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the dill seeds, salt, garlic, and chili pepper into a fine texture. In a small pan, heat some olive oil and fry this garlic and spice mix on low heat until it gently browns. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, blend the pomegranate molasses, tahini, and flour with ½ cup of water. Slowly introduce this pomegranate mixture to the lentils, stirring consistently until they boil together. Add the sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Incorporate half of the fried onions and the fried garlic and spice mix.
- If the lentil mixture becomes too thick, slowly add boiling water to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and add more pomegranate molasses if needed. Adjust the seasoning to your preference.
- Serve the Rummaniyeh in a large shallow serving dish. Garnishing with the remaining fried garlic and spice mix, fried onions, pomegranate jewels and fresh parsley. This dish can be enjoyed hot or cold with flatbread on the side. Enjoy!