Red Lentils with quince and caramelized onions

September 29, 2010  •  Category:


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.


  1. 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.
  2. Add  the spices to the lentils  and half the caramelized onions and cook for another 20 minutes.
  3. When  the lentils take the consistency of a porridge, add the cut up pieces of quince and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  4. Serve with the caramelized onions on top, either in a large plate or as a dip with toasted baguette slices or pita triangles.


  • 2 pounds of quince
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice


  1. Scrub the quince to get rid of their little fuzzy covering.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


38 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. lisaiscooking says:

    Looks delicious on the toasts! The combination sounds fantastic too. I wish I could get locally grown quince.

  2. Rosa says:

    A beautiful spread! Lovely with sourdough bread.



  3. deana says:

    I think ripe quince are the world’s best room scent. Other than that, try quince ratafia..
    it uses a lot of quince and tastes amazing. Your recipe looks wonderful (you can tell how I like quince). I have some in the fridge just waiting to be used!

  4. Diane says:

    Nadege has just sent me over to meet you so here I am. I love these dishes and I will certainly be back. Diane

  5. Adelina says:

    You’re killing me with your creations!!! I feel like I can already taste it in my mouth.

  6. Cherine says:

    This must be so tasty!

  7. peter says:

    Bring on the quince recipes…an underappreciated fruit.Admit it, you wanted to attend that fashion shpw with those pretty young Lebanese ladies. 😉

  8. Priya says:

    Woww makes me drool..

  9. mylittleexpatkitchen says:

    Is it quince season already?? I hope I don’t miss it like last year. I love quince jelly. Great dish this one Joumana. Lentils are a favorite of mine but I’ve never tried the red ones.

  10. Devaki says:

    Oh my Joumana – This is delish. I never would have thought to use sweet quince with lentils bu then again with the sweet carmelized onions, it must be lovely.

    I really must try this ine soon 🙂

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  11. Pauline says:

    My quinces are not quite ripe yet. They had better hurry up so I can try this! Thanks Joumana for another great vegan recipe.

  12. Faith says:

    I’m so impressed with everything about this lovely dish! It’s so pretty and the flavors you used go together so nicely. Every week at the market I ask when quince will be arriving (I’ve been dying to make a certain dish with them!) and I was told the end of next week! I think I’ll be sure to buy enough quince to make this beautiful dish as well.

  13. fimère says:

    tu as toujours de bonnes idée une belle combinaison
    salé/sucré ça doit être délicieux
    bonne soirée

  14. Sara says:

    Joumana, would you believe I have never had a Quince! Perhaps you can ship me some from your orchard! Great recipe, I will have to try soon! I have a dream to visit Lebanon one day!

  15. Jackie at Phamfatale says:

    Your crostini look so cute. I’ve never thought about using masoor dal with a sweet compote. The quince is just an added bonus to your lovely finger food! Thanks for sharing!

  16. SYLVIA says:

    Every Fall my mother makes a delicious quince jam, matching the color of caramelized sugar I could smell the powerful aroma it’s intoxicating. It symbolizes the beginning of the Fall. This recipe celebrates that for me. Quince meets the red lentils in this creative bruschetta, and makes a show stopping presentation, I can imagine what it will taste like. Joumana this is a vanity piece.

  17. Sonia says:

    this look so delicious!

  18. Barbara says:

    I see quince in the market from time to time and stand and stare at it, wondering what I could make with it. You have answered my question, Joumana. I’ve never made quince jam (what is wrong with me?) so now I’ll try it and then make this delicious mouthful you have introduced. My mouth is fairly watering!

  19. Katerina says:

    This would be perfect with baked pita chips. If your parents liked it then I am sure mine will like it too. I’ll make it for the Sunday lunch.

  20. Angie's Recipes says:

    The spread looks unique and very tasty!

  21. fériel says:

    Huum ça semble délicieux!

  22. Sweet Artichoke says:

    Always ready to try new ways of cooking lentils: this is such an innovative combination! It’s been ages since I last ate quince… probably my Mamy’s pâtes de coing, very long ago… I am definitely bookmarking your recipe!

  23. Mo says:

    I have no idea what quince even tastes like but this still looks amazing to me! Great job. 🙂

    PS – That’s crazy, shutting down a bridge for a fashion show! People’s priorities are so out of whack sometimes, huh? 😛

  24. Ivy says:

    Love quince and love making quince spoon sweet and jam. Haven’t been to the farmers’ market for a couple of weeks, so don’t know if we can get any yet. Your recipe sounds delicious and very original.

  25. Susan says:

    I’ve never had a quince and don’t often see them for sale here (or maybe I just don’t notice them), but the lentils and caramelized onions sound delicious!

  26. Amanda says:

    Joumana, this looks like a great lunch dish. I always have waaay more quinces than I can ever use!
    Here in Adelaide, every year, half the city is closed off causing huge commuter traffic problems for weeks for a car race!!

  27. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    I guess this confirms that I am a new age girl after all.

  28. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    Voilà un accord qui m’intrigue mais qui me tente, aussi !

  29. Nadji says:

    Une combinaison insolite, lentilles/coings mais je te fais confiance pour savoir que ça ne peut être que délicieux.
    Bonne journée et à bientôt.

  30. OysterCulture says:

    Definitely sounds like form before function. What a delicious sounding dish these red lentils with quince and onions. I’ve never had quince like this and now I am very curious.

  31. Jamie says:

    I have never cooked or baked with quince even when we rented a house with quince trees in the garden. I love the intriguing blend of flavors. Beautiful dish as always!

  32. Julie says:

    Encore de l’originalité, on est sûrs d’être surpris lorsqu’on vient te rendre visite!!
    J’en goûterais bien une cuillère sur une tranche de bon pain là 😉

  33. Heni says:

    LOL many of those events seem to happen here in Algeria too! I never worked with quinces since have no idea what to do with them other then jams. So this looks interesting Joumana!

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