Purslane and Ancient Grains Stew

Pırpırım aşi

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Vegetarians are always surprised by how many interesting dishes the land of lamb lovers can offer. In season, this stew appears regularly on the famous ‘Fifty Bowl’ display table at Çiya restaurant in Istanbul’s Kadıköy market, using the kind of grains humans have been boiling for millennia. While it is likely that lentils and chickpeas originated in Anatolia, black-eyed peas are recent arrivals—brought from Africa in the fifteenth century for palace chefs eager to surprise the sultan.

The sour-salty green purslane, which contains more omega-3 than any other leafy vegetable, is Turkey’s favourite weed, usually consumed fresh in summer and dried in winter. In the first great work on botany, written in the fourth century BC, the Greek philosopher Theophrastus advises sowing purslane in mid-spring so you can enjoy it in summer. If you can’t find purslane, the best substitute is baby rocket (arugula).

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Ingredients

  • 95 g ( oz/½ cup) dried chickpeas
  • 95 g ( oz/½ cup) black-eyed beans
  • 110 g ( oz/½ cup) green lentils
  • 45 ml ( fl oz) olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tomato
  • ½ tablespoon capsicum (pepper) paste
  • 90 g ( oz/½ cup) coarse bulgur
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch purslane (or baby rocket/arugula)
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • pide bread (to make your own), to serve

Method

Cover the chickpeas with water and soak overnight. Cover the black-eyed beans with water and also soak overnight.

Strain, then rinse the chickpeas and black-eyed beans. Rinse the lentils. Boil the chickpeas in plenty of water for 20 minutes, covered, and then add the black-eyed beans and lentils and boil, covered, for another 40 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Cut the tomato in half and then grate it into the onion, discarding the skin.

Add the three pulses to the onion mixture. Dilute the capsicum paste in 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of warm water and add it to the mix. Add the bulgur and the pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Pick the leaves from the purslane and add them, whole, to the stew. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir in the sumac, then turn off the heat.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the mint and stir for 1 minute. Add the chilli flakes and stir for 1 minute more.

Divide the stew into four bowls and drizzle with mint butter. Serve with pide.