Recipe for Life: Rumaniyya

Recipe for Life

Rumaniyya is a popular Palestinian stew made of a tangy mix of lentils, eggplants and pomegranate molasses. 

Laila El-Haddad, co-author of The Gaza Kitchen cookbook, shared her delicious recipe for rumaniyya with the Full Frame team.


  1/2 cup (100 g) dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

  4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups (1L to 1.3 L) water, plus more as needed

  3 tablespoons (45 mL) pomegranate molasses

  6 tablespoons (90 mL) fresh lemon juice

  2 tablespoons (30 mL) flour

  1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) salt

  1 1/2 tablespoons (20 mL) dill seed

  2 teaspoons (10 mL) crushed red pepper flakes

  5 cloves garlic

  1 1/2 pounds (680 g) eggplant (unpeeled), cut into small chunks

  1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cumin

  2 tablespoons (10 mL) tahini

  1 teaspoon (5 mL) toasted sesame oil

  1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil

  1 medium onion, finely chopped, for garnish

  Pomegranate seeds (arils), for garnish (optional)

  Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)


Combine the lentils and 4 to 5 cups (950 mL – 1.1 L) of water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook (uncovered) for about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat; do not drain.

Combine the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water in a liquid measuring cup, then whisk in the flour to form a slurry.

Use a mortar and pestle to crush a combination of 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) of the salt, the dill seed and crushed red pepper flakes, then add the garlic and mash to form a sort of paste. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, combine those ingredients in a small zip-top bag and crush with the flat side of a large knife.)

Heat the lentils (still in the water) over medium heat; add the eggplant and cook until it has softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the spice-garlic mixture, the cumin, tahini, toasted sesame oil and the remaining teaspoon of salt.

Gradually stir in the pomegranate-flour slurry; cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes. If the stew becomes too thick to stir, add water to achieve a better consistency.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and fry for about 10 minutes, until golden.

Divide the stew among individual bowls. Garnish each portion with onion and a little of the oil left over in the skillet, and some pomegranate seeds and parsley, if desired. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6 people.