Horaa Osbao, an absolutely incredible dish originating from Syria that has become our family favourite for the past two Ramadan. According to the tradition, this lentil and pasta stew is served as an appetizer or side dish, but trust me, this is more than filling enough to be served as the main course!
I know you all must be curious to know what does Horaa Osbao mean? same here! 😁I learnt that the name Horaa Osbao or Harraq Osbao is Arabic for "he burnt his finger”. Interesting right? That is how irresistible it is, even when it’s piping hot.
The ingredients used are all simple and humble except for one, pomegranate molasses. But don't worry, I got your back with some alternate ideas but I do highly recommend you get a small bottle of it. The whole dish is made in one big pot where brown lentils and pasta stews with a burst of onion, coriander and garlic flavour which gets even better with the addition of pomegranate molasses and a dash of lime juice to finish off.
The stew is good enough as is but what makes it irresistible is the toppings and garnish used. Fried pita pieces and fried onions you guys! How can you resist?? I don't think anyone would dislike fried onions which elevate the taste of most of our Indian food too. And fried pita is what we two fight for!
The coriander garlic mix is something that will test your chopping skills! 😉You need to take time to do or use a mini processor to get it chopped up super fine. This is what I believe makes harraq osbao warm and spicy because there is no other spice powder or whole spices used.
I personally like to use Orzo pasta and I highly recommend the same though there is no restriction on the kind of pasta to use here. I chose orzo purely for aesthetic purpose as they are a similar size to the lentils and so makes it easy to scoop and eat.
What is the best substitute for Pomegranate Molasses?
Pomegranate molasses also called dibis ramman is a syrup derived from the reduced pomegranate juice with or without sugar, to a thick, intensely flavoured syrup. It is tangy and sweet like tamarind. Yes, Tamarind is the closest best alternative I can recommend but if you can only find grape molasses, then you can use that too. Always start adding little and adjust as per taste.
Another option would be Sumac! Which again has a very similar flavour profile but is not in paste or syrup form. You can add it right after onions and garlic so it gets the flavour extracted to best by the end of cooking. You can sprinkle some as a garnish too.
I never heard of this dish until Maha of Cameras and Cupcakes shared on Instagram stories where her mom was making horaa osbao for iftar. I made it the very next day but was sceptical if Mr F would eat. As it is no-meat and has greens topped that too for iftar! I had no hopes but I knew I would definitely like it. What happened during iftar was a shocker, because it was flat-out delicious! We loved it so much that we were fighting over the bowl as I served only one bowl. I never imagined he would love it so much that he asked to make it again another day.
By now, I have made it so many times and shared it on Instagram and each time none of my followers returned with a tried report.😐 I knew then that I had to do a step by step process because I was feeling bad that they were missing out on a delicious bowl of humble food. I shared Stories during this Ramadan and guess what? many of them tried and loved it too. I felt a sense of accomplishment because that was my intention, make Horaa Osabo famous in my circle.
Now that it is tried, tested and loved by many out there, I decided to make it again for the blog. But realized I had no pomegranate left to garnish! That colour would have made great photography but does not alter the taste in any way... so I still went ahead and made a small batch of Horaa Osabo and had this plate of lentil stew for my lonely lunch right after the photography.😁
How to make?
Make sure to have the best quality and fresh ingredients as that will make this simple dish shine. We will be cooking slowly adding flavours as we taste or you may use a pressure cooker too. Follow this process so you can save time!
- fry a small batch of crispy fried onions
- fry or oven toast pita bread pieces
- start the lentils cooking process
- meanwhile prep the garlic and coriander
- finish off the stew
- top with garnishes
- serve warm
The process of cooking the lentil and pasta in a pot took me only 30 minutes so I don't prefer the cooker method which adds more dishes to wash but you may use a pressure cooker if you want to.
You can make a big batch by adding ½ cup pasta for every 1 cup of lentils and adjust the water and flavouring accordingly.
I always have a stash of fried onions in the freezer. You can check my biryani recipe to find how to make cripsy fried onions.
fried or oven toasted pita pieces
I always used fried pita but this time I tried toasting the pita pieces in the oven under the grill option. You may do it over the stove-top on a pan but I didn't want to stand that long and do it in batches.
I lined a baking tray with foil, spread the pita pieces and drizzled olive oil lightly all over and toasted under a preheated oven for just less than 5 minutes. Watch it carefully and remove it once they start to brown. Remove the toasted once and put back in the oven the remaining that needs some more toasting. This is just an option to make it a little less in calories as you still use fried onions! 😂
Heat olive oil in a deep pot on a medium flame. Add the chopped onions and garlic with a dash of salt. Saute until the onions turn translucent for about 5 minute.
lentil and pasta stew
Then add the soaked and drained brown lentils.
Pour enough hot water to cover the lentils, add salt and pepper and let it boil on medium flame until the lentils are almost done for about 15 to 20 minutes.
You may add more hot water if required.
Mix in a portion of the coriander and garlic that you prepared for the garnish.
Add the pasta and more water and adjust the salt.
Keep stirring and adding more hot water if required but maintaining the consistency thick. Cook this for about 10 minutes or until your pasta is cooked through.
Stir in the pomegranate molasses and adjust to taste. Bring to boil until it reaches a thick consistency and switch off. Lastly, stir in the lime juice.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the fried pita bread, fried onions, pomegranate arils and the coriander garlic mix. Serve warm.
- 1 to 2 pita bread torn into small pieces and deep-fried or toasted
- 1 medium red onion sliced thinly and deep-fried
- ¼ cup coriander garlic mix handful coriander leaves and 5 garlic cloves chopped finely together
- Pomegranate arils
For lentil pasta stew
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium-sized red onion diced finely
- 3 garlic cloves grated finely
- 1 cup brown or green lentils whole masoor, washed and soaked for 30 minutes or more
- ½ teaspoon pepper powder
- Hot water add as required through the cooking process
- 3 to 5 tablespoons orzo pasta or any small shaped pasta the quantity will differ as per the shape
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Heat olive oil in a deep pot on a medium flame.
- Add the chopped onions and garlic with a dash of salt. Saute until the onions turn translucent for about 5 minutes and then add the brown lentils.
- Pour enough hot water to cover the lentils, add salt and pepper and let it boil on medium flame until the lentils are almost done for about 15 to 20 minutes. You may add more hot water if required.
- Mix in a portion of the coriander and garlic mix that you prepared for the garnish. Add the pasta and more water and adjust the salt.
- Keep stirring and adding more hot water if required but maintaining the consistency thick. Cook this for about 10 minutes or until your pasta is cooked through.
- Stir in the pomegranate molasses and adjust to taste. Bring to boil until it reaches a thick consistency and switch off. Lastly, stir in the lime juice.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the fried pita bread, fried onions, pomegranate arils and the coriander garlic mix. Serve warm.