Mazeh Spice & Black Lime Lentils

Serves 4.

Lentils pair beautifully with the citrus spark of dried lime and the Persian earthy-yet-floral aromas of Mazeh Spice. Serve these lentils with basmati rice (infused with a pinch of saffron, if you're feeling fancy).

1½ cup lentils Puy / French green lentils
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 tablespoon Mazeh Spice
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 Omani black lime
1 carrot, peeled, cut into 3-4 chunks
1 stalk celery, cut in two pieces
1 large garlic clove
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

For garnish:
2 tablespoons barberries
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the lentils, then soak them in 5 cups of warm water for at least an hour, or preferably overnight. (With an overnight soak at room temperature, the lentils will begin to sprout, which improves both flavor and texture.)

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and ¼ teaspoon of the salt; cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook an additional 10–12 minutes until the onions have deeply browned edges. Scoop half of the onions out of the pot and set aside.

Stir the Mazeh Spice and turmeric into the onions remaining in the pot and cook until the spices darken and are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Crack the black lime slightly by whacking it with the bottom of a saucepan or a kitchen mallet. Add the lime, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley to the pot, followed by the drained lentils and the remaining ¾ teaspoon of the salt.

Pour 3 cups water into the pot and stir to mix the ingredients. Return the heat to medium-high until the liquid boils, then reduce the heat so that the liquid is gently simmering. Cook until the lentils are tender but still have a bite, about 20 minutes (add more water, ¼ cup at a time during the cook time, if needed).

While the lentils cook, prepare the barberry garnish. Set a small skillet over medium/medium-high heat and add the barberries along with the butter/ghee and 1 cup of water. Simmer until all the water has evaporated and the berries are plump and glossy. Remove the skillet from the heat.

When the lentils have finished cooking, pick out the carrot, celery, and parsley stems. Mash a few of the lentils against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon, then stir the pot vigorously (as if you were beating cake batter) — this will thicken the liquid remaining in the pot and make a sort of slightly creamy sauce.

Stir in the reserved onions, season to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the barberry butter. Serve warm.