The gloriously sunny colour of this quintessential Middle Eastern soup warms the heart wherever it is found, and is famous during Ramadan.
The tradition is to break the long day’s fast with a date to regulate blood-sugar levels. Then a bowl of this hearty lentil soup will perform restorative wonders. The cooked limes, or lumi, are the secret ingredient. Squeeze one against the side of your serving bowl to let the tart juice out.
250g (7 oz) red lentils
4 medium tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
3 dried limes (lumi)
4 tabs vegetable oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 teasp garlic puree
1/2 teasp ginger puree
1/2 teasp Madras curry powder
1/2 teasp tumeric
1/2 teasp cumin
2 tabs tomato puree
2 vermicelli nests or 50g (1 3/4 oz) shredded vermicelli
salt to taste
Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Put them in a large pan and add 1 litre ( 1 3/4 pints) boiling water.
Bring to the boil then simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.
Blend the mixture in batches in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
Pierce each dried lime a few times with a knife. Heat the oil in another deep pan and fry the onion and the dried limes together until the onion is golden brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger purees and the spices.
Combine the lentil mixture with the onion mixture, stir well and season with salt to taste. Add the tomato puree. Cook over a medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble.
Lastly, add the vermicelli, and when cooked – within 3 minutes – the soup is ready. Adjust the consistency by adding water, if necessary. Pour into soup bowls, and don’t forget the limes.
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