Many years ago I learned what Ramadan was when visiting in Istanbul, a city I love. I was staying in a apartment and had made a nice breakfast, I had a dinner invite for Sunset, so I looked up at what time the sun was to set and headed out for my day. I had planned on grabbing some lunch while out. In the area I was in, there was no lunch to be had.
Restaurants were closed. Ramadan is a period when most Muslims fast. As part of their fast they remember those who have no food and donate to the poor, and the poor donate to the poorer.
With no one eating or drinking I developed the habit of going into a closet to drink from my water bottle so as not to offend. By the time the sun set I was seriously hungry and to the family home I showed up for dinner, where I was warmly welcomed.
At the appointed time a plate of flatbread arrived along with bowls of delicious lentil soup.I was with people who had been fasting since before the sun had risen so the breaking of the fast was a slow process, sips of water, sips of soup, and bits of bread were eaten slowly so as not to upset the stomach. For me it had been slightly less than 12 hours since my last meal.
Almost every night during my stay a variation of this soup was served and it never failed to be my favorited course.
Last night was the first night of Ramadan and I made the soup in the way I had been shown reverse measuring in order to turn it into a recipe that can be followd
1 cup of red lentils
1 large onion finely diced
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika ( I like the hot)
Sprigs of mint, thyme and oregano or if you do not have fresh a pinch of each
Red pepper flakes
8 cups of vegetable broth (meat broth can be used if you have it on hand, even water if you have no vegetable broth but then you will add more salt at the end)
Warm the oil and put the onion, garlic, cumin and fresh or dried herbs in the oil, along with the red pepper and tomato paste. Stir constantly, this gives the herbs and spices and chance to bloom and become fragrant. When the onion and garlic are soft and the smell divine you add in the lentils and water.
Add the carrot, bring to a boil, then turn to a low simmer and cook for about an hour. When you remove the lid the lentils should be beginning to fall apart. Take an immersion blender and puree. Taste and adjust salt.
It can be served with a little chili garlic oil, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
with bread and salad it can stand on it’s own as a light meal or use it to break a fast.