Lentil Stew with Dumpling and Crispy Caramelized Onions

Harak bel-usbao or “Burn Your Finger” is a popular dish in Damascus.  I think the name came from women burning their fingers trying to drop the dumpling into the boiling lentil stew.   This dish can be eaten hot, room tempreture or cold. My mom used to serve it cold.  She would make it a day before serving and would sprinkle  the onion just before serving the dish.  The dish has great flavors but also give you complete protein and your daily need of fibers.

Serves 6-8

1       cup olive oil

4       medium onion, julienne

1       pound lentils

6       cloves garlic, mashed

2       cups chopped cilantro

1/4  cup lemon juice

1/4  cup pomegranate molasses

salt and pepper to taste

1      loaf bread

1/2  cup pomegranate seeds, optional

-Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute 1/4 of the onion and saute for five minutes.  Wash the lentils and add to the onions.  Add 10 cups of water, salt and pepper and bring to boil.  Cook the lentil cooked but not mushy.  Remove the lentil from the stove and set aside.

-In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions until caramelized.  Line a tray with paper towels.  Using slotted spoon, remove the onions from the oil and place over the paper towel.  Remove the pan from the stove and allow the oil to cool.  Place the frying pan with the oil on top of the stove.  Add the garlic and the cilantro and saute for couple of minutes.  Add the garlic and cilantro mixture to the lentils.

-Place the lentils back on the stove, add the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses.  Bring back to a boil.  Adjust the seasoning.

-By hand, cut the dough into 1/4-inch balls and drop into the boiling lentils.  Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

-Spoon the lentils into deep serving platter.  Sprinkle with the caramelized onion and the pomegranate seeds.


  1. says

    sounds delicious, question when you get to the part of recipe “cut the dough” can you expand on what type of dough. I have tried and failed on dumplings and really want to know how to make light fluffy dumplings, it really is the make or break aspect of any dish calling for dumplings..

    Mahalo for your time to reply

  2. sanaacooks says

    Hello Krysia, It is great healthy and delicious dish. For this dish I just make pita bread dough. I mix 2 tablespoons of sugar with 2 tablespoons yeast and 1 cup of warm water– about 70 F– Allow the yeast to get activated and rise. Take 3 cups of flours and place in bowl. Make a hole in the center. Add the activated yeast with the liquid and mix. Keep adding warm water and mix into the dough until you have smooth dough. I usually keep bowl of more that warm water next to me and keep wetting my hand while kneading the dough. Grease another bowl with olive oil, place your smooth dough inside the bowl, cover and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Grease your palms with olive oil, take half of the dough in your hand and start to squeeze about about 1 inch ball out, cut and drop into the stew. You can also just roll into 1/4 inch thick flat dough and cut it with a knife into 1 inch square pieces and then drop into the stew. This dough is great for pizza and pita bread. I hope this answer your question. Let me know. Thank you . Sanaa

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