Purslane is a herby plant with succulent leaves and stems that has gained popularity due to its nutritional benefits. Once considered a weed, this plant has been transformed to a nutritious food used in salads, soups and stews. The leaves have a light sour flavor with a juicy crunch from the succulent leaves. It has become a favorite amongst high-end chefs and in Michelin starred restaurants. In India, we get a variation of the plant called "kulfa" or pigs weed. It is most commonly used in dals and as a stir-fry.
Here is a simple to make recipe from Persia where this plant is also highly prized. The delicately sour leaves are cooked with earthy brown lentils, I used horse gram but you can use any variety, in a hearty soup that is delicious. This is one of those super healthy dishes, tons of nutrition from the kulfa and horse gram. The oil-free cooking technique make this the perfect soup for those of us who want to eat healthier.
This is a wonderful cookbook from one of my favorite chefs. A cookbook that has written by traveling to the region, living with the people and learning recipes in their kitchens. This cookbook is filled with amazing flavors from regions and communities that have received very little attention in the Western world, like this soup. I hope to be able to cook more from here soon.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
1 cup brown lentils, soaked overnight
1 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup any short grain rice
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water, or a mix
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt, to taste
4 cups packed purslane or kulfa leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon pepper
Soft goat's cheese
Flatbread or sourdough toasts
Fresh herbs of choice
Add the lentils, onions and rice to the stock/water and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 40-45 minutes, till the lentils are cooked but still retain a bite.
Add the tomato paste, cumin, turmeric and salt, mix in and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the purslane leaves and pepper and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, topping the soup up with water as needed to get a final thick soup. Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings. Although the soup is traditionally has very thick, almost stew-like, you are welcome to make it to the consistency of your choosing.
To serve, heat the soup and ladle into bowls. Top with the cheese and serve alongside the mixed herbs and bread.