One of most delicious and popular Syrian dishes with the most unfortunate name. Harraq Isbao, or ‘Burnt His Finger’, is a traditional Damascene dish that is made with lentils, dough, fried onions, bread chips, tamarind and lots of pomegranate!
There is no denying that this delicious dish is time-consuming. Here are some hacks that I turn to when I simply don't have the time to make Harraq Isbao from scratch.
Dough: Use elbow pasta instead of making dough.
Fried pita bread: Make fried pita chips in large batches. I always have a large Ziploc bag filled with pita chips for all kinds of Middle Eastern dishes.
Fried onions: You can purchase fried onions from the grocery store instead of making it yourself.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups brown lentils (not red!)
- 200 g tamarind paste
- ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups cilantro chopped
- olive oil
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- 3 pita bread cut into squares
- 2 onions sliced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Garnish (can be prepared a day in advance)
- Heat a large pot of oil over medium-high heat. Fry the pita bread squares until golden, about 2-4 minutes. They will continue to cook and darken after you take them out, so don’t let them fry too long. Drain on a paper towel. Set aside for the garnish.
- In the same pot of oil, fry onions until golden brown. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside for the garnish.
Harraq Isbao Stew
- Combine dough ingredients and knead for 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30minutes.
- In a large pot, bring 5cups water to a boil. Add lentils and cook for 10 minutes.
- In small saucepan, simmer tamarind in 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve the sauce.
- Flour your countertop with lots of flour. Begin rolling dough using a rolling pin. The dough should be no more than ½ cm thick. Dust the top with flour. Using a pizza cutter, cut strips vertically then horizontally, making little 1.5cm squares of dough. Toss dough into simmering pot of lentils.
- Add tamarind sauce, pomegranate molasses, dried coriander and salt to the pot of lentils and simmer for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a large frying pan, sauté cilantro and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add half to the pot of lentils and reserve half for the garnish. Stir pot well.
- When the lentils are done, arrange in a deep serving dish or Pyrex dish. Garnish with the pomegranate arils, fried bread chips, fried onions and sautéed cilantro.
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