Hira’ bi Isbao is a middle-eastern dish that can be transliterated to ‘stirred with his finger’. This can be compared to the saying ‘put your foot in it’—meaning a food item that has been cooked exceptionally well! We’d be interested to see if other languages have a saying of that sort. This dish is packed with protein-rich lentils and happens to be naturally vegan. The tartness of the pomegranate molasses packed with the zing of the cilantro & garlic will have your taste buds jumping for joy your body jumping even higher.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
1 cup green lentils
1.5 tsp salt, divided
Up to 8.5 cups water, divided
2 onions, cut into half moon slices
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces whole-grain fettuccine, broken into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, depending on taste
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, depending on taste
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
1 whole-grain pita bread
2 tablespoons peanut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is heated, add cut onions to pan and stir. Stir every 1-2 minutes for 10 minutes.
- Boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan over high heat along with 1 teaspoon salt. Add lentils once water boils, and reduce heat to medium.
- After the onions have been on the skillet for 10 minutes, remove half of them and add them to the pot with lentils. You will be caramelizing the onion that remains in the skillet. You can do so by continuing to cook the onions for approximately 20 more minutes, or until you see the onions start to turn brown and smell sweet & fragrant. Remember to keep stirring (approximately every 2-3 minutes). Once the onions are caramelized, remove them from skillet & place on a paper towel to allow them to drain from excess oil. Reserve for garnish.
- Right after adding the onions to the pot with lentils, add broken fettuccine and stir together well.
- By this time, the water has begun to likely begun to evaporate. If so, add 2.5 cups of water along with 1/2 teaspoon salt as well as sugar, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses. Keep on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the cilantro & garlic [C&G]. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Once heated, add crushed garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant. Add chopped cilantro and continue to cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until cilantro is wilted. Mastery of C&G preparation will open you up to a whole new world of middle-eastern dishes!
- At this point, check on the lentil-pasta mixture. Add 2 cups of water if water has reevaporated. You don’t want the mixture to be soupy, but you definitely do not want it to be dry.
- Continue cooking on medium low for 15 minutes, and then add cilantro & garlic [C&G] mixture and cook for a final 15 minutes.
- While this is cooking, cut your pita bread into 1-inch square pieces. Add to a baking sheet along with remaining tablespoon of peanut oil & bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Reserve for garnish.
- Serve as pictured at room temperature, and garnish with caramelized onions, crisp pita, and any fresh cilantro you may have left over.