Vegan Persian lentil stew

What I love most about Persian cuisine is balance, not just of flavours but also of textures and temperatures. In most dishes you’ll find sweet, salty and sour flavours in perfect harmony. Soft dishes like stews are often paired with crunchy rice, nuts, potatoes or raw vegetables. And each meal is served with an abundance of fresh herbs.

Some of my favourite stews are Khoresh-e Gheymeh, Khoresh-e Bademjoon, khoresh-e fesenjoon and this Khoresh-e Bamiyeh.

As much as I believe that some recipes should be cooked, enjoyed and celebrated just the way they were decades ago, passed down from grandmothers to mothers and to daughters, desperate times call for desperate measures. Here is the vegan adaptation of Khoresh-e Bamiyeh.

What you will need –
  1. Pigeon Pea Lentils – 1 cup (washed till the water runs clear)
  2. Tomato Sauce – 1/2 cup (sub with 4 large fresh tomatoes + 2 tablespoons tomato paste)
  3. Onions – 1 large, chopped
  4. Dried limes (Limoo amani) – 2, crushed (sub with 1.5 tablespoons tamarind paste)
  5. Pomegranate molasses – 1.5 tablespoons (sub with 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar)
  6. Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  7. Coriander powder – 1.5 teaspoon
  8. Ground cinnamon – 1/4 teaspoon
  9. Garlic – 4 large cloves, minced
  10. Bay leaf – 1 large, torn
  11. Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  12. Okra – 250 – 300 gms
  13. Vegetable broth – 3 cups
  14. Salt – a generous pinch

(Substituting dried lime and pomegranate molasses is only recommended in truly desperate times such as this lockdown. Both ingredients are easily available at specialty food stores but are also easy to make at home.)

Method –
  1. Heat a large, heavy bottom pot with a lid, add oil, garlic and onions. Sauté for 7-8 mins, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the diced tomato sauce, bay leaf, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon. Sauté for 5 mins to allow the spices to bloom.
  3. Add washed lentils, broth and dried limes. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover the pot, bring it up to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Let it cook until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Add pomegranate molasses and okra. Cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh herbs – coriander/spring onions/ dill/ parsley.

Serving notes :

Best paired with a fresh cucumber – yogurt – pomegranate salad and rice Tahdig but can also be served with plain basmati rice.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

Take a picture, tag @the_slow_kitchen on Instagram and use #theslowkitchen on your posts!

Hearty Lentil Stew

Lentils are probably that one ingredient almost all of us have in our pantry. They’re not the most attractive looking, but make for a great alternative for meat and are wholesome, nutritious and delicious. 

It’s likely you have all the ingredients on hand for this accidentally vegan recipe. They’re staples in my house – so this hearty stew can be whipped up on a whim. The seasonings here are simple – garlic, herbs, a little cumin and cinnamon, which makes this dish both warm and earthy.

I like to serve it with a slice of sourdough (because I can eat literally anything with sourdough), but you can serve it with rice if you prefer.  And I garnish this hot mess with a generous sprinkle of parmesan or grana padano.

What you will need – (4 large servings)
  1. Red lentils (masoor) – 1 cup (par boiled, 1 whistle in the pressure cooker)
  2. Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)
  3. Carrots – 1 cup, cut into large chunks
  4. Potatoes – 1 cup (cut into large chunks)
  5. Tomato sauce – 1/2 cup (sub with 4 large diced tomatoes)
  6. Garlic – 5-6 cloves (finely chopped)
  7. Veggies – 1 cup
    (add any veg of your choice – mushrooms, zucchini, green beans, broccoli; I had frozen peppers and peas on hand. )
  8. Thyme – few sprigs
    (sub with dried thyme, oregano, rosemary or marjoram; perfect opportunity to use up those pizza seasoning packets you’ve been hoarding)
  9. Smoked Paprika – 2 tsp (sub with 1 tsp red chilli powder and 1 tsp cumin powder)
  10. Cinnamon – 1 tsp (can also use 1 inch stick of whole cinnamon)
  11. Pepper – 1 tsp
  12. Salt – to taste
  13. Olive oil/ghee – 2 tbsp 
  14. Vegetable stock – 3 cups (sub with chicken stock or filtered water)
  15. Red pepper flakes – for garnish (optional)
  16. Parmesan or other hard cheese – 1/4 cup for garnish (optional)
Method –
  1. Par boil or pressure cook lentils with 2 cups water for 1 whistle.
  2. Meanwhile, chop and prep your veggies.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions. Sauté till onions are translucent.
  4. Stir in carrots, potatoes, tomato sauce, salt and spices. Sauté for 2 mins.
    (If you are using fresh tomatoes, add tomatoes, salt and spices before the carrots and potatoes and let them reduce a little bit, about 5-6 mins)
  5. Add partly cooked lentils to the skillet and add vegetable stock and herbs. (In the absence of stock, add leftover water from boiled lentils and/or plain drinking water)
  6. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and let it cook covered for 30-40 mins, stirring every once in a while.
  7. Add veggies and cook for another 7 mins. (I like my veggies to have a little bite. If you prefer them fully cooked, add them a little earlier.)
  8. Adjust seasoning if required. Garnish with fresh herbs, a little drizzle of coconut milk or grated parmesan.
  9. Serve as is or with a side of toasted bread/rice/quinoa.

If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!

Take a picture and tag it #theslowkitchen on Instagram so I can see!