Middle Eastern Infused Lentil Dumplings

Middle Eastern Infused Lentil Dumplings
History.com

We love coming across dishes that combine cultures and cuisine, and these Middle Eastern Infused Lentil Dumplings do just that. Use them as an appetizer or a light main meal with a salad and you're dinner is ready. With being allowed to prepare them before hand, things just got easier in our kitchen!

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Being a part of so many cuisines, it's no wonder these little nuggets are so delicious!

There are many stories about how dumplings began but we chose to tell this one. Maybe because it's a story of stumbling on something beautiful accidentally, for he didn't introduce them because of their taste but rather as a healing remedy.

During the Han Dynasty- legend has it that Zhang Zhongjing - a physician, also known as the "Medical Saint" - and for good reason, returned home to find everyone in his town suffering from frostbite. To promote blood flow and warm the skin he wrapped natural herbs that were medicinal and mutton in dough, feeding them to everyone. Not only was this proven to be the exact remedy they needed but it was also absolutely delicious.

And so the dumpling story began...

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What happened after was truly incredible. One will never know if it was due to the medicine saint, but if you were to look at almost every culture, they carry their own version of a dumpling.

From Kactchori's, in Indian cuisine, to Brazilian Pastels, to Central European catering to many different names depending on the region, one of them being Knodel, to Arabic cuisine with Kibbeh. And the list can go on and on...

Of something so delectable, how could it not have traveled through every country, it would have be a sin had it not!

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Seeing that this recipe carries red lentils, we're not only creating an incredibly tasty meal or appetizer, whatever you want it to be, but it's high in protein and it's vegetarian which fits perfectly with our meatless Monday menu.

What You'll Need 

  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 cups cooked red lentils
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup water, plus more for cooking
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • round potsticker wrappers
  • flour, for dusting
  • clarified butter for pan-frying
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Method

Preheat the oven to 350F, and place a rack in the top third. Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup of the olive oil, maple syrup, and salt. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes and gently toss until well coated. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer, cut-side up, and roast, without stirring, until the tomatoes shrink a bit and start to caramelize around the edges, 45 to 60 minutes. If you aren't using these immediately, let them cool and then scrape them into a clean glass jar along with any olive oil that was left in the baking dish or sheet. Sometimes I top off the jar with an added splash of olive oil. The tomatoes will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

Use a food processor or hand blender to puree the red lentils along with the water.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil with the garlic, paprika, and chile flakes. Cook over gentle heat until the oil barely comes to a simmer. Turn off heat, and allow to sit for a few minutes.

Add the paprika oil to the pureed lentils, and then gently fold in the roasted tomatoes. Thin with a bit more water if needed, you want the filling to be quite moist, but still able to hold shape. Season with a bit of salt, just enough that it tastes good. Taste and make any necessary adjustments.

Now, fill and shape the dumplings. Very lightly dust your counter top with a bit of flour. Place 12 wrappers on the floured countertop, and add a small dollop of filling in each dumpling. Run a wet finger around the rim of each wrapper, press the edges together well, and try to avoid trapping air bubbles in the dumplings if you can. Crimp or pinch each dumpling, and gently press it down against the counter to give it a flat base, so it sits upright. This base is also what gets brown and crunchy - one of the things you're after. Repeat until you run out of wrappers or filling. Place the dumplings seam side up on a well-floured plate or baking sheet. The extra flour that sticks to the base gives extra crunch.

At this point you can freeze any dumplings you know you aren't going to cook.

To cook the dumplings, heat a scant tablespoon of clarified butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange dumplings in the pan, seam side up, with a sliver of space between each (so they don't stick together). Pan-fry until the bottoms are golden, a few minutes. With a large lid in one hand, carefully and quickly add 1/3 cup / 80 ml water to the pan, immediately cover, and cook the dumplings for a few minutes, or until the water is nearly evaporated. Uncover and finish cooking until all the water is gone - another minute or so. Dial back the heat if the bottoms are getting too dark. Cook in batches, and serve drizzled with the scallion oil and spicy soy sauce.

Make 4-5 dozen dumplings.
Prep time: 60 min - Cook time: 10 min

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Our mouths are watering... We're making all of them as per the recipe and freezing half for the week!

We love being able to come home and know that dinner is almost ready and it's not takeout!

Soul food here we come :)