Harraq Osbao – A Perfect Combo Of Lentils And Pasta

Some of my favorite dishes are lentils or “Dal” as called in the South Asian region. Who can resist a warm bowl of dal with roti/nan (flatbread) or even rice? My all-time favorite daal is the brown lentils. I remember my grandmother telling us that we could only have this daal in the winter. My grandmother believed that some foods were only to be eaten in the winter as they had a “warm” effect on the body and made you ill if you ate them in summer.

I’m not sure if I understood this concept as a child but it meant we could only have brown daal in the winter. I always looked forward to the brown lentil season in my house. My mother later learned from a trusted friend that if one added some milk to brown lentil, it no longer had the “warm” effect. This meant we could now have brown lentil all the year around. This made me one very happy person.

The recipe I am sharing today is a popular dish in both Lebanese and Syrian cuisine and there are many versions of it. It is quick and easy to make. The pasta is such an interesting variation; I had never tried this combination before. I must say it was delicious. Adding pasta to lentils is a very old tradition in the Middle East. In fact, Clifford A. Wright, the author, and researcher wrote that pasta was actually an Arab invention and goes back to the Tunisians.



This simple dish has plenty of distinct flavors. It’s a delicate fusion of rich, creamy flavors paired with the light, fresh crunch of the pomegranate. It’s a comforting and hearty meal and, thanks to all the colorful garnishes, it is a meal “fit for the king”.

The name literally translates from Arabic as “he burnt his finger”, which goes some way to explaining how popular it is with the diners, as they famously burn their fingers in the eagerness to eat it.

Harraq Osbao


40g tamarind pulp

250g spaghetti, broken

6 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 vegetable stock cubes

1 1/2 liter water

350g brown lentils (1 heaped cup)

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses*

4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 green chili (sliced in the center)

1 tsp garlic minced

1 bunch coriander leaves (chopped roughly)

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

2 lemons, cut into wedges


  1. Soak the tamarind in 200ml boiling water for 10 minutes. Use a spoon to mash the tamarind in the water and separate the pips. Now place in the sieve to drain the pulp and discard the pips. If available please buy the tamarind without the pips, it is so convenient.
  2. Put a pan on fire and add two tablespoons of oil and the onions. Fry for eight minutes, stirring regularly, until golden and soft, then remove and place in a bowl.
  3. In a big pot add water, the vegetable stock cubes and bring to a boil on a high flame.
  4. Reduce the flame to medium and add the lentils, cook for 20 minutes, or until soft.


  1. In the same pot as lentils add the spaghetti, tamarind water, pomegranate molasses, 150ml water, green chili, salt and black pepper, and leave to cook for ten to twelve minutes, until the spaghetti is soft and almost all the liquid has been absorbed. I like mine with some liquid and not completely dry.
  2. Close the fire and leave on the stove to rest for 10 minutes, during which time the remaining liquid will continue to be absorbed.
  3. In a separate pan heat the two tablespoons of oil and fry the garlic for one to two minutes, until just golden-brown. Turn off the heat, and mix it with the chopped coriander in a bowl.

Serving suggestion:


Spoon the Harraq Osbao into a large bowl, scatter the fried onions, the garlic and coriander mix, the pomegranate seeds, and decorate with lemon wedges. Dish serves 4-6 people as the main course.

*Note: Pomegranate molasses can be substituted with the juice of one large lemon.


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