Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nabila's Weekday Lentils

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lentils: Moroccan quotidian food

When you want something that will take you through the next 5 days of classes, lentils are the way to go, and I’m throwing in some long hot green peppers for added spiciness. The Arabic name for lentils is ‘Adas, but when texting or chatting online, the word appears as something like 3adas. I’m not sure how this system of transcription evolved—wikipedia says it’s an ad hoc development necessitated by the limited options of cell phone keypads, numerals being presumably easier to type than an apostrophe—but I like it, and most of my Moroccan friends and students enjoy when I use it on Facebook or in a text message—to them, seeing a non-Moroccan doing this is like watching a dog playing the piano.

There are a number of distinguishing consonants in the Arabic alphabet which are velarized or pharyngealized versions of the same unemphasized consonants that are represented in English using d, th (as in these), s, and t, and the glottal letters g, k, and h. These other consonants give Arabic its very throaty sound, because the consonants are articulated further back along the alveolar ridge and soft palate, and provide a deeper coloration of the surrounding consonants, so that “sad” with the unemphatic “s” becomes something closer to “sod” with the emphatic “S”, also known as the letter “Saad”.  The most difficult character for many English people to get their tongue (and throat) around is the “Ain”. It was described in my Arabic alphabet primer as a voiced version of the unvoiced “H” sound one would make while fogging and cleaning ones eyeglasses. That “H” sounds itself is the emphatic version of the unstressed “h”, which is the last letter in the name “Allah”. The stressed H is represented in text messages using the numeral 7, and the “Ain” is represented as the numeral 3. In fact, in its standalone appearance, unconnected to other letters, the “Ain” appears as a reversed “3”, or “ع”. And ‘Adas, which begins with the letter “Ain”, appears as 3das or 3adas in text messages or in Facebook chat.

Since these 2 letters are very common in Arabic, you’ll see a lot of 3’s and 7’s in text messages, along with other numeral used to represent the emphatic, or what I call “deep-throat” consonants.

So quotidian are lentils, that along with loubia, a white bean dish, and bisaara, made with dried cracked fava beans, they are the most common legume dishes in Morocco.

  • 1/2 kg. lentils (about 2 cups, or 1/2 liter), washed and picked over
  • 1 liter of water
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine 
  • 1 tomato, grated
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 3 long green hot peppers, sliced lengthwise, for a spicy flavor (as desired)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
Pressure cook the lentils and water on setting 2 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, collect the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
When the lentils have been pressure cooked, relieve the pressure and drain the water. Combine all the ingredients and boil for 25 minutes longer. Serve with fresh bread. 

Hadith... It was narrated from Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The food of one person is sufficient for two, the food of two is sufficient for four, and the food for four is sufficient for eight.” ...

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