Egyptian Lentil Soup

gouna egypt lagoon
the palm tree is actually a cell phone tower, camouflaged

I walked this morning to downtown Gouna, eschewing the rickety bus, and stopped along the way to admire the view. I tried not to think about the latest news from America, ever more depressing with each passing day, or the news from Syria, ever more tragic.

Upon arriving in downtown Gouna, I went to various supermarkets and an authentically Egyptian fresh veggie outlet  to pick up the ingredients for the fresh lentil soup that I’ve decided to make today, ever since I discovered that Kan Zaman’s (a restaurant in Gouna that bills itself as serving real McCoy Masri grub) lentil soup isn’t freshly made but heated up from frozen pre-cooked glop (mitgamid, in Arabic).

egyptian lentil soup
I fried a whole whole clove of garlic in olive oil and used the pepper and cumin you see on the upper left corner

I was unable to find any containers of vegetable stock, so I ended up making my own using a combination of fresh and frozen (very small amount) veggies.

At the supermarket, I bought a package of red lentils which are called yellow lentils here (for good reason: they turn yellow when you boil them).

red lentils

If you look at the package closely, you can see that the lentils are imported from Russia (talk about Red), and packed in Hurghada.

O Allah, what happened to the good old Egyptian a’ats (Arabic for lentils)?

The “red” lentils soup threw me for a loop:  how could I could I eat this, given the massacre of all those children in Syria, not to mention the whole bot thing?

Well, I had no other choice. So I put my outrage on the shelf, and moved on, though not without thinking that I wish I could shelter all those poor children at my villa and give them hot soup to eat.

Okay back to the soup.

All the ingredients you see in these pics cost only a few dollars.

When I returned home, I washed everything carefully with tap water, then once with purified water, just to make sure.

I used cholesterol-free olive oil instead of ghee (samn, in Arabic), and alas was unable to find turmeric or coriander in the supermarket. I don’t patronize the shops that offer fresh spices in Gouna because of all the dust, flies, cigarette smoke that no doubt pollute the merchandise that is  left out in big burlap sacks in the open air to attract tourists.

egyptian lentil soup
I spooned off all the white foam

Anyway the soup took about 2 1/2 hours to make, give or take, including the vegetable stock.  I find it very relaxing to cook, and the soup itself was delicious!

egyptian cat

Sandy came in at some point to chow down on her Made in America kibbles. Is it my imagination, or is she getting a little hefty around the middle?  I wonder if it’s all this USA cat food that she loves so much, or Tommy, who is always lurking around the villa.

fresh lentil soup
No blender to turn it all into a puree, but it was yummie just the same

After a very satisfying meal (I had several bowls!), which included a real English Mars bar for desert, I soon put CNN on mute (the deranged old NRA weirdo known as Wayne LaPierre came on to defend the indefensible in some big CPAC speech that seemed to accuse the Broward kids of being foreign agents or Socialist or some such nonsense).

Instead, I stretched back on the couch to watch on YouTube the incomparable Ben Kingsley ham it up as an Ottoman spy stuck on a remote Greek island in Pascali’s Island, which is based on Barry Unsworth’s novel of the same name.

Since I communicate with practically no one these days, I, too, may as well be on a remote island.  Which, in many ways, is just how I like it, as I am self-sufficient in most respects.

leaving america


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