Cooked lentils make a simple, hearty, and inexpensive meal eaten at home or from
street-stall vendors. The fresh herbs, stirred in at the end, give the lentils an appealing
earthiness as well as a vivid touch of color.
Lentils are often prepared as a cooked salad. To make this recipe as a salad, boil the
lentils in the water with the onion until done but still firm, 25 to 35 minutes, then drain off
any remaining liquid. Stir in the spices and olive oil, and top with the fresh herbs. Serve
warm or at room temperature.
Moroccan markets sell two sizes of lentils: tiny brown ones and larger khaki green ones.
The small ones are preferable here. Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking.
About 2 cups/400 g small brown lentils
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 ripe, medium tomatoes, halved, seeded,
and grated (see Note)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
for drizzling
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp sweet paprika
1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch saffron threads, dry-toasted
(see page 50) and ground
Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for
Finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing
Pour the lentils into a large bowl. Pick over and
remove any stones or debris. Rinse and drain.
In a medium pot, put the lentils, onion,
tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, cumin, paprika, pepper,
and saffron. Season with salt. Cover with
6 cups/1.5 L water, stir, and bring to a boil over
high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook
at a low boil until the lentils are very tender but
not mushy, 35 to 45 minutes. Add more water
if necessary to keep the lentils loose and soupy
or, alternatively, remove the lid to reduce some
liquid. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Ladle into bowls, top each with a drizzle of
olive oil and some parsley and cilantro, and serve.
note: To grate tomatoes, halve the tomatoes crosswise.
Place a small strainer over a bowl. Seed the
tomatoes by running a finger through the cavity and
into the strainer in order to catch all of the juices.
Cup a tomato half in the palm of your hand and
grate on a box grater, working so that the skin gradually
flattens back as the soft flesh of the tomato
comes away. All that should be left is the skin.