For such a small pulse, the humble lentil sure does pack a punch. It's full of protein and other great things, plus it's incredibly versatile. That's why you find it pops up so often in Lebanese cuisine everywhere from starters to main courses. But it's the role it plays in the classic mezze that we're looking at today, especially when it features on vegetarian menus. As you'll soon see, the great thing about the lentil is how it can absorb the flavours around it and enhance them with its earthy goodness. So you'll have a wholesome treat in store for you with any of these four dishes.
1. Moudardara - Al Mandaloun
One of the simplest ways of preparing lentils is also one of the best, and it's a great vegetarian dish in classic Lebanese cuisine. Each restaurant has their own particular way of preparing and even spelling Moudardara and at Al Mandaloun their version is as traditional as it comes. Served cold, the lentils are cooked with rice until both reach the perfect state of tenderness. Then they're topped with strands of crispy fried onion that have been caramelised to create a sweet and savoury contrast to the pulses and grains beneath.
2. Lentil Majroush Soup - Nar
Soups are another dish in which lentils can play a vital part, both in terms of the flavour they add and the texture they provide. A fantastic example of this is the Lentil Majroush Soup from Nar, in which ground cumin provides the dominant flavouring to a rich, smoky and aromatic bowl. This is balanced by the comforting taste of the lentils to create the perfect start to any traditional meal or an option among a number of mezze to be shared and enjoyed.
3. Lentil Kibbeh - Mir Amin
Cumin makes another appearance in this hearty and wholesome dish from Mir Amin. In this case, the lentils are blended with crushed wheat and served with a savoury onion sauce. It's another classic demonstration of how, in the right hands, just a few simple ingredients can be combined to create a dish that has deceptively complex textures and flavours. The restaurant's Lentil Soup with red lentils, potatoes, carrot, leek and celery is another amazing example of this in action.
4. M'Dardara - Mezza House
The Mezza House's own special take on lentils and rice is called M'Dardara and they promise a taste of genuine soul food from the Levant "infused with the passion and love of many mothers". You can certainly taste the love and care that's gone into the preparation of this dish, just as you can with all of their other mezze. Incidentally, they're also rumoured to serve the very best hummus in town so make sure you add that to your order too!
Give your next mezze order a lift by adding a lentil dish or two. Deliveroo will be only too happy to make it all happen.