Rummaniyeh-Lentil Eggplant Stew

Recipe Corner: Wafa Shami’s Rummaniyeh Lentil Eggplant Stew


“Palestinian culture revolves around food, from day to day life to weddings and celebrations, food comes into every aspect. It’s about spending time with one’s family and friends and making an event out of the ordinary,” says Palestinian author, photographer and food blogger Wafa Shami. “My blog, Palestine in a Dish, is about my mother’s authentic Palestinian recipes that I grew up eating in our home. When I moved to the United States, I often cooked for myself while receiving instructions from my mother over the phone. The food of Palestine is an array of vibrant, appetizing dishes, sharing culinary traits with Middle Eastern and East Mediterranean regions. Food is important since we often come from large families and enjoy eating together with or without special occasions,” she adds.

“Cooking styles vary, and types of cooking styles and ingredients used are generally based on the climate and location of the particular region and on traditions. Rice and variations of kibbee are common in the Galilee. The West Bank engages primarily in heavier meals involving the use of taboon bread, rice and meat, and coastal plain inhabitants frequent fish, other seafood, and lentils. Palestine in a Dish is about Palestinian foods and traditional Palestinian recipes. Most of my recipes I learned from my mother and some were shared by my family members. Because I love to cook and enjoy delicious food, you’ll find recipes inspired by Palestinian history and culture,” she adds.

“Here is a traditional Palestinian dish that is vegan, healthy, and packed with flavor. It’s a Middle Eastern lentil eggplant stew with pomegranate molasses that can be eaten alone or with flatbread (khubez) or a side of salad. Perfect for an exotic dish that doesn’t require too much effort. Ruman is the Arabic meaning of pomegranate and habet is a seed of pomegranate. In the Middle East, there are two types of pomegranates, one is sweet, and the other is sour. The juice of the sour fruit is the one used in this recipe. The origin of this dish comes from the coastal areas in historical Palestine, Lid, Ramleh, and Yaffa where my parents are originally from. Pomegranates are important to Palestinians and are regarded across the Middle East as a symbol of abundance and prosperity. During the season you’ll find street carts filled with fresh pomegranates that offer freshly squeezed juice.”

“Every fall my mother makes this dish using fresh pomegranates which are only available during this time of the year. This dish is so popular at our house, my mother feeds the entire family and shares it with her friends and neighbors. Made on a stovetop, it’s filled with flavor from the pomegranate and lemon juice, and the fried garlic is all soaked up in the cooked eggplant and lentils,” adds Shami.


1 cup brown or green lentils

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4 cups of water

1 large-size eggplant (peeled and cut into cubes)

3/4 cup lemon juice or pomegranate juice

2 tablespoons sour pomegranate molasses

4-5 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon flour (or corn starch as a gluten-free option)

2 teaspoons cumin powder

Jalapenos (optional)




Place the lentils with water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and continue to boil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring, until lentils are softened.

Add the eggplant over lentils, salt and cumin, cover the pot and lower the heat to medium. Let it simmer for another 25 minutes. Mix flour with the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and pour over the pot, mix well and let it cook for another 5 minutes.

In a separate skillet heat the olive oil, add the crushed garlic and jalapeno peppers (optional), keep stirring until golden brown, then pour over the pot. Place in serving bowls, garnish with pomegranate seeds, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature with a side of salad and/or flatbread.

This recipe for habet rummaneh shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes to prepare. It can be served at room temperature, and either eaten alone or with flat bread (khubez).

Wafa Shami

Additional tips:

* Turn this recipe gluten-free by replacing the flour with cornstarch.

* This recipe can be made all year long, using lemon juice and pomegranate molasses.

* If you happen to have sour pomegranate juice, use one cup and also add 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. No need to add any pomegranate molasses in this case.

* This dish is full of nutrients and flavor that suits the entire family even little kids.

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While Shami grew up in Ramallah, her parents are 1948 refugees from the Sahel area of al-Lydd, Yafa, and al-Ramla, which heavily influenced their cooking. One of the native dishes from that area that she has up on the blog is “Rishtayet al-adas,” made with red lentils. As for Ramallah, some of her favorite places to eat include Rukab’s ice cream, Abu Iskandar shawarma on Main Street, and a new kunafa spot called Iker, which got Wafa’s special seal of approval: “Oh my God, nothing else satisfies me,” she proclaimed.

She moved to the United States to pursue higher education and graduated with a Master’s degree in International Studies. Since moving to the United States, she has maintained her engagement in Middle Eastern issues as a volunteer. After her son was born she was inspired to write children’s storybooks based on her childhood memories. Visit her blog at and follow her on social media @palestineinadish for delicious recipes.

Recent books:

* <> A is for Arab – June 6, 2023

* <> When Za’atar Met Zeit – October 28, 2021

* <> Olive Harvest in Palestine – October 28, 2021

* <> Easter in Ramallah -October 28, 2021

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