Levantine cuisine is known for being delicious and for its literal names, which usually tell you what’s in the dish or how it is made. However, another thing it is known for, especially Syrian cuisine, is its funny names. This dish, Harra Osbao, is one of them and they usually have a story behind them. There are a couple of different stories behind the naming of this dish, but they all involve an impatient individual who had to taste it while it was being cooked, so they put their finger in the pot and burned it, hence the name “Harra Osbao”, meaning the dish that “burned his finger”.
This dish is great for the winter months, as it will keep you warm and full for a long time. It originates in Syria and the people of Damascus are most famous for it. It is made across the Levant, as well as similar dishes like Palestinian Rishtayat Adas, but I personally prefer the Syrian version. This is mainly because while lentils and dough are delicious on their own, what really makes this dish sing are the garnishes. Each garnish plays a part in making Harra Osbao absolutely amazing, with the pomegranate giving fruitiness and sweetness, the coriander freshness, the onions earthiness and the bread crunchiness.
Nowadays, many people use pasta, like pappardelle or fettuccine, instead of making the dough, but I prefer making my own dough because I like the silky texture it has, but feel free to use pasta. Just make sure to break it into shorter pieces before adding it to the lentils. I usually make this dish after making something with dough, like fatayer, and save a bit of the dough for this, but making the dough is so fast and it doesn’t need to rise.
Although there are many steps, this dish is straightforward and things like fried bread and fried onions can be made ahead of time. It is important not to add too much water to the lentils because we will be cooking the dough in the same water and we don’t want it to be too watery. We can always add water if we feel like the lentils are drying out or that the mixture is too thick. I like my lentils to be on the tangy side, but feel free to taste and adjust the mixture to your own taste. This is best eaten at room temperature, but it can be eaten hot or cold. Whichever way you eat it, I am sure you’re going to love it!
2 cups brown lentils
4 cups water
6-8 cloves garlic, mashed
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 cup water
1 large onion
1/2 cup flour
½ cup coriander, finely chopped
2 large pitta bread
- Begin by rinsing your lentils and placing them in a pot with the water. Cook, uncovered, on medium-high heat until fully cooked. Make sure you stir often and check the water level. You can top up the water if you need to, but do not add too much, as we will be cooking the rest of the dish in this water and we don’t want too much liquid.
- While the lentils cook, make your dough. You can use any leftover dough you may have or make a simple dough with flour, salt and water. Add the water gradually and work it until you have a soft dough, similar to pasta dough. Leave to rest.
- To make the fried bread, cut your pitta bread into medium squares and make sure to separate the two layers. Fry in the oil of your choice, such as sunflower or vegetable oil. Fry in batches if you need to, so that they all fry evenly, and the pan isn’t too crowded. Place on a kitchen towel and set aside.
- To make the fried onions, cut your onion into crescents and separate the layers. Toss in the flour and fry in the oil, after the bread. Do not crowd the pan when frying. Once crispy and brown, place on kitchen towel and set aside.
- Roll out the dough, about 1/8 inch, or as thick as fettucine or paradelle pasta. Cut into squares and place in some flour to keep them from sticking.
- Once the lentils are cooked through, add the pasta in batches, making sure to stir so they don’t stick together. Then add the garlic, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your taste. Add some of the chopped coriander. Cook and stir often until the dough is cooked through and the dish is the thickness of a stew.
- Pour the lentils into a serving platter then top with the fried bread, fried onions, fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds. This is best eaten at room temperature. Enjoy!
ANOTHER RECIPE: Basbousa with condensed milk