Lebanese lentils with labneh balls


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


    • Ready in

      1 hr 10

Appears in

The Part-Time Vegetarian: Flexible Recipes to Go (Nearly) Meat-Free

The Part-Time Vegetarian

By Nicola Graimes

Published 2015

  • About

The fresh yogurt cheese, labneh, is surprisingly easy to make and has a mild, slightly sour taste, which is the perfect foil to spicy food, such as this green lentil dish. A soft, crumbly goats’ cheese, feta or dollops of soft cheese would make good alternatives, too, as would the Spiced Lamb Meatballs on the opposite page if you are looking for a dish to appeal to both vegetarians and meat eaters.


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 4 carrots, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 200 g/7 oz/ cups green lentils
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée/paste
  • ½ tsp light soft brown sugar
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • juice of ½ large lemon
  • 3 handfuls of chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • rocket/arugula salad and flatbreads, warmed, to serve


  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat and cook the onion for 10 minutes, part-covered, until softened. Add the coriander seeds, red pepper and carrots and cook for another 3 minutes, then stir in the garlic.
  • Add the lentils, 625 ml/21½ fl oz/2⅔ cups water, the tomato purée/paste, sugar and cinnamon and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, part-covered, until the lentils are tender.
  • Meanwhile, take 1 tablespoon of the labneh, roll it into a ball and dip into the sumac, if using, until lightly coated. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining labneh and sumac, then chill until ready to serve.
  • Stir the bouillon powder into the lentils with half the chilli, the lemon juice and half the coriander/cilantro, season with salt and pepper and heat through. Spoon the lentils into serving bowls, top with the labneh balls and sprinkle with the remaining coriander/cilantro and chilli. Serve with a rocket/ arugula salad and warmed flatbreads.