Iraqi Army Lentil Stew in Tomato Sauce
The Iraqi military has been busy. Since 2003, Iraqi security forces have engaged in combat operations fighting various insurgent groups and ISIS. However, mealtimes for Iraqi soldiers were predictable affairs. Regardless of ethnic or religious differences, stews (marag) are an essential part of Iraqi cuisine. Although this army stew can be made with different beans, the addition of tomatoes is essential as they form the foundation for the majority of Iraqi stews. This particular stew was eaten by myself on an Iraqi Army base in Baqubah, a city approximately 30 miles north of Baghdad. Beside white rice, this meal was also accompanied by sammoun, a bread akin to a less dense ciabatta. Serves 2-3
- 1 cup of dried yellow lentils
- ½ lb lamb meat, small inch cubes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cups hot water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon Arabian seven spice mix (optional)
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
Soak dried lentils overnight in water. Drain lentils and discard water. Dice onions into small pieces
(Optional) Slice lamb into small, one inch cubes, set aside
Heat oil over medium heat, saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, meat and hot water. Bring back to boil, lower heat and cook for 30 minutes.
When the lentils are soft, add salt, spice mix and tomato sauce, mix well to avoid lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking for 15 min.
Serve with plain white rice or timman bil shaariya (rice mixed with vermicelli noodles)