Chickpeas and Barley in Red Lentil and Eggplant Sauce

by on April 28, 2006
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Today’s recipe is based on a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, Anatolian Red Lentil Stew with Wheat Berries and Chickpeas, which I wound up adapting more than I meant to.

The first adaptation was out of necessity: I didn’t have wheat berries so I used barley instead, and I served it over rice (jasmine rice) because I felt it could use more grain. The second adaptation was out of ignorance: I assumed that one regular-sized eggplant could substitute for 2 small ones, but only after making the recipe did I read the introduction to it in which Ms. Jaffrey states that “you may use a 4-ounce portion” of a larger eggplant. Oops! I used a lot more than 4 ounces. (But perhaps I would have anyway; I’m all about getting as much vegetables into a dish as possible.) And of course I left out the 1/4 cup of olive oil the recipe called for; I’m so used to leaving out oil that I hardly think of that as an adaptation anymore. The next change came mid-way through the recipe when I saw that the “stew” was much more like a soup, so I added a second can of chickpeas. (I would have added more barley too, if I had had any more cooked.) Finally, the most important change came at the end, when I tasted the stew: It was so bland that I had to add some spices or else risk not being able to eat it. The original was seasoned only with dried mint (I used fresh), but I added cumin and red pepper flakes–and it still could have used more seasoning. After so many changes, I didn’t feel it was right to call this “Anatolian” or Turkish or even stew.

On the positive side, my daughter E liked it and didn’t even realize she was eating eggplant (it’s blended into the sauce). Sometimes bland food has its benefits! I invite you, however, to take this recipe and add to it whatever you think will make it less bland.

Chickpeas and Barley in Red Lentil and Eggplant Sauce

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CarenRox October 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Hi, Susan! I ran into a deal on eggplant and used your blog for recipes. I was specifically looking for recipes that I had the vast majojrity of ingredients for. I made this one and Curried Eggplant Soup. Both are delicious! You truly are a master at created complex flavors, and I appreciate your efforts so much!


2 Samantha April 16, 2010 at 2:53 am

i only had brown lentils so the stew came out looking like poop, hahaha, but it tasted AWESOME! Thanks for the adaptation!

I have Madhur Jaffrey’s book too, and i notice as well that sometimes the end product comes out kind of bland. It’s probably because we don’t use the ridiculous amount of oil she uses. But whatever, you can always add more spices 🙂


3 Leena April 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

I think your recipes are so inspirational – thank you so much for creating them! As a vegan on a high plant protein low carb diet I really appreciate your work. Thank you x


4 shirley April 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Is the eggplant peeled?


5 Susan Voisin April 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Yes, it is peeled. Thanks for asking. I’ll add that info to the recipe.


6 shirley April 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Thank you this recipe has several of my favorites so I am keen to try it.


7 Michelle B April 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Fabulous! I love the color and texture and versatility of this stew/sauce. Like you, I wanted a bit more seasoning. So in addition to your changes, I added some garam masala, smoked salt, and along with the chickpeas I tossed in some baby lima beans and chopped roasted red peppers. wowee!! Will use this recipe again and again. Thank you so much.


8 Joy July 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Well, I adapted, too! I added about 1/3 cup red wine and I’m using fava beans instead of chickpeas. And I’m saving the fresh mint for the end. Thank you for another fabulous recipe!


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