Adasiya – Lentils with feta cheese

‘You cook the meat with chopped onion in oil and when the pot has been brought to the boil, and the scum removed, husked lentils are thrown in and cooked thoroughly. Then you pour in vinegar and spice it with coriander and cumin: throw in garlic (as well). Whosoever wishes may throw in ground cheese; whosoever wishes may colour it yellow with saffron. Throw in beet root without the cheese and garlic. Whosoever wishes may throw in something sweet.”

‘Adasiya. This dish is found in the earliest culinary manual compiled, by al-Warraq. Named for its chief ingredient, the lentil (‘adas), which is probably the oldest cultivated legume and is native to southwest Asia, possibly northern Syria and Iraq. The original recipe calls for the inclusion of meat, but it can be prepared as well without for those with vegetarian preferences. A variation of this recipe suggests using beet root which could be subsituted for the fresh coriander. In a Caliph’s kitchen by David Waines, London: Riad el Rayyes Books P.108-109

8 oz brown or green lentils, soaked an hour in hot water
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablsppoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 TBS ground coriander
1 TBS ground cumin
4 oz feta cheese chopped fine
4fl oz wine or cider vinegar

Drain the water from the lentils and put into a heavy casserole, together with the onion and garlic, adding just enough fresh water to cover the contents. Bring back to the boil, partially cover the casserole and cook for half an hour or until the lentils are tender. Allow the water to reduce somewhat while being careful not to let the contents burn.
Add to the spices to the casserole along with the vinegar and the cheese. Stir the mixture thoroughly and simmer gently for a further 30 minutes. This dish can either be served hot or enjoyed cold.

Usually done as vegetarian dish with no meat. Have put in half the feta in for 30 minute simmer and adding rest at last minute to ‘dress’ the dish.

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