This is probably my Moroccan mans favorite recipe that I make. It could be because it was the first Moroccan recipe I perfected but, he says he actually likes them better than is own Moms. Now you cant beat that. If a man says something you cook is better than his own Moms… it has to be damn good.
The traditional Moroccan prepartaion for these tiny legumes is to stew them until tender in a flavorful sauce with tomatoes, onions, garlic and hearty quantities of Moroccan spices and herbs… although mine may be a bit out of the traditional realm.
Moroccan lentils can be served as a side dish or entrée. Many families make them weekly, as I do. They regularly offer them alongside fried fish but, I generally will prepare a vegetable omelet or sometimes a salad nicoise. This recipe is the vegetarian version, but meat may certainly be added. Ground beef for a more chili like lentil or even chunks of beef or chicken would be good for a one pot meal.
I have read that lentils purchased in American supermarkets tend to cook faster than Moroccan or Middle Eastern lentils, so adjust the cooking time if necessary. Whatever lentils you use, be sure to pick through them to remove any debris or small stones. Wash them thoroughly before cooking. Soaking is not necessary.
I do use a pressure cooker, which is regarded as standard cooking equipment in Morocco for cooking all legumes. If simmering the lentils conventionally in a pot, allow for double the time and keep an eye on liquids.
What You’ll Need~
1 cup brown or green lentils
1 large, ripe tomato diced (I use about a dozen cherry tomatoes)
1 carrot diced
1 medium onion chopped
3 to 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and/or cilantro
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons tumeric
1 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 lemon squeezed
1/3 cup olive oil
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
How to Make It~
1. Cook tomato, onion, carrot and garlic in olive oil in a pressure cooker or heavy-bottomed pot until onions are translucent and tomatoes are loosing their liquid.
2. Add spices and stir to release flavor. Make sure to stir so spices dont stick to bottom of pot.
3. Add 3-4 cups of water (For a ticker sauce add 3c for a soupier sauce 4c) to pot along with salt and lentils. You can add the parsley or cilantro at this point, if you wish but, I generally add it at the end with the lemon juice.
4. Follow one of the methods below.
Pressure cooker method. Cover, and cook on pressure over medium heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the lentils are still submerged in sauce, reduce the liquids so that the sauce is ample, but not watery.
Pot method. Cover, and simmer the lentils over medium heat about 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender and the sauce is not watery. (If the liquids reduce too much during cooking, add a little water to prevent the lentils from burning.)
5. Once the lentils are cooked add the parsley or cilantro and lemon juice of half lemon and let simmer for 5 more minutes before serving.
You can serve the lentils in individual bowls, but here in Morocco the tradition is to serve them on a communal platter, with a crusty bread. The bread is traditionally used to scoop up the lentils and sauce, but go ahead and eat with a spoon… its really much easier!
A little swirl of extra virgin olive oil on the top of the lentils before serving is a tasty little addition; try it, it is soo good!