This is a perfect Buddha bowl to me. I mean seriously, what’s not to love about flavorful, crispy beef and lentils? Truth-be-told, I can’t claim credit to this incredibly wonderful bowl, but I had to share it, because I absolutely adore it. This recipe is lightly adapted from a new cookbook called, Flavors of the Sun, by Christine Sahadi Whelan.
This amazing book was given to me by my brother and sister-in-law, who live just a stones throw from the world famous Middle Eastern grocery store, Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Right before we moved to the Bay Area we were living just a few blacks away from this Cobble Hill favorite and I’ll be honest, I miss it as much, if not more, than New York bagels.
The Sahadi Family
Originally from Lebanon, the Sahadi family first established Sahadi’s in Manhattan’s “Little Syria” in 1895. Shortly after, in 1899, the shop received its first mention in the New York Times. Wade Sahadi moved the flagship shop to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn in 1948, due to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and the migration of the community.
Wade’s son Charlie Sahadi took over the family business in 1967, with the help of his wife Audrey and his siblings Bob & Richie. Today, it’s currently helmed by Charlie’s children, Ron Sahadi and Christine Sahadi Whelan, and her husband Pat Whelan.
Sahadi’s offers fine ancient grains and exceptional spices, with over 200 bulk bins of fresh roasted nuts, perfectly dried fruits, and imported olives. Old fashioned wooden barrels are filled to the brim with flavorful coffee beans of all varieties. The entire store is a gem of a place filled with incredible aromas from wall-to-wall that overflow onto the Brooklyn’s sidewalks. As it’s been said, Sahadi’s is “an old-world place where you can discover new tastes“.
This crispy beef and lentils dish is a fine example of all the many wonderful flavors and Middle Eastern ingredients Sahadi’s not only sells, but has popularized, making these ancient spices more readily available to those in the states. This is a lovely, hearty meal I have fallen quickly in love with that allows for lots of flexibility in preparation. Adapt to your hearts content, you truly can’t go wrong. I love to serve this with homemade zaatar bread (recipe soon to follow), but you don’t have to go all out to enjoy this wonderful easy meal all by itself.
Crispy Beef And Lentils
- 1 pound beef top round, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- For the Spice mix:
- 1/2 Tablespoon allspice
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 Tablespoon dry red wine
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- For the Rice and Lentils:
- 2 cups French lentils
- 1 cup Jasmine rice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- Persian cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and radishes for serving
- Step 1 Place the beef in a gallon ziplock or small mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil as well as the spice mix: allspice, cayenne, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, cloves, paprika, ginger, cardamon, black pepper, cinnamon and turmeric. Turn the meat to coat. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Step 2 In a large saucepan add the remaining olive oil and place over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the onion and fry, stirring frequently, until browned and crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
- Step 3 Use two tablespoons of the flavored oil (reserving the rest for later) the onions were cooked in and add to a medium sauce pan and place over a low flame. Add the lentils and rice and stir to coat. Season with salt, pepper and allspice and mix well. Add 8 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the rice lentils and rice for about 25 minutes, or until all the water has been observed and the lentils and rice are tender.
- Step 4 Whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, and garlic until blended. Add a little bit of water as needed until the tahini sauce is drizzle-able. Season to taste with salt.
- Step 5 Place the remaining onion flavored olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot and just smoking, add half the beef and cook quickly until just browned, turning once. Transfer the beef to a plate and repeat with the remaining beef, adding more olive oil if needed.
- Step 6 To serve, spoon a generous serving of lentils and rice into a serving bowl. Top with some crispy beef and crispy onions. Add some sliced cucumbers, halved tomatoes and sliced radishes and drizzle with tahini sauce. Serve warm.
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