Certain events only happen in Lebanon.
Case in point:
Yesterday, the ministry of interior authorized a local company to shut down a major bridge connecting Beirut to a big suburb, for the sake of running a fashion runway show, causing hours and hours of logged traffic jams.
So while people were in their cars wasting precious hours stuck in traffic, I was home concocting this dish.
Why quince? Truth is we got so many quince from the orchard I had to do something besides quince compote and quince paste!
This lentil dish is new age. I admit it. However, even my octogenarian parents liked it and nobody can accuse them of being anything other than conservative folks, especially when it comes to food.
Eat it as a dip or with a spoon, warm or at room temperature.
- 1 cup of red lentils
- 2 cups of water
- Spices: a dash of cinnamon, paprika, white pepper, cumin, cayenne and sumac
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup of quince compote or jam or jelly (I probably added a whole cup)
- 2 onions, sliced in rings
- olive oil, as needed
- juice of half a lemon OR, more sumac
NOTE: The quince can be replaced with sweet potatoes and one or two tablespoons of molasses or honey.
- In a large saucepan, place the red lentils and two cups of water; bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and soft. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil and fry the onions till they get crispy and caramelized.
- Add the spices to the lentils and half the caramelized onions and cook for another 20 minutes.
- When the lentils take the consistency of a porridge, add the cut up pieces of quince and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Serve with the caramelized onions on top, either in a large plate or as a dip with toasted baguette slices or pita triangles.
TO MAKE QUINCE COMPOTE:
- 2 pounds of quince
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- Scrub the quince to get rid of their little fuzzy covering.
- Peel the quince and core; place the peels and core in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, add the lemon juice and simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture turns syrupy. It will release a heady fragrance. Discard the peels and place the quince in the syrup, adding more water in order for the fruit to be almost (but not quite) covered in water.
- Simmer the quince for 30 minutes or longer, until the color of the fruit turns to garnet from yellow, and the water turns syrupy. Cool. Serve as a jam or with a muhallabiyeh or similar milk pudding.