Petra Cooking Class…and a recipe for Lentil Soup

Our guest blogger Adam Groffman went to Jordan with us over the festive season having won our XMAS Competition in 2011. Read more about his travels on his blog, Travels of Adam.

Petra Kitchen, courtesy of Adam Groffman

I spent Christmas Day trekking over 15 kilometers through the massive Petra site—that included 800 steps up to the breath-taking Monastery. While I had a packed-lunch and some fresh fruit during the full day I spent in the park, by the time dinner rolled around I was more than starving. Luckily we had a group dinner scheduled at the Petra Kitchen.

Basically, the venue is a gigantic room with at least 6 large tables that allow for 6-8 people per table. Each table was designated a certain task or dish to cook for the meal. All together there must have been 40 people in the kitchen. We all wore aprons and gloves, though because we were such a large group not everyone had to do much.

I ended up just slicing up some cucumbers which eventually made up one of the salads. Others had more interesting tasks but it was good to have the chefs and assistants there to answer our questions. It was a fun evening and the food turned out really well. I have to admit I’m a pretty great cook 😉

Jordan's famous Petra Treasury, courtesy of Adam Groffman

Our meal consisted of lentil soup, baba ghanouj (eggplant), tahina salad, tabbouleh, fatoosh (cucumber & tomato salad), sambousek (dough triangles spiced or with cheese) and a chicken & rice dish. The biggest take-away for me was how to make the popular Middle Eastern spice zatar—a mixture of olive oil, sumac, salt & sesame. But the following recipe for lentil soup was pretty good too:


1 cup brown lentils
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil or ghee
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
6 cups water
1 onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
a dash of pepper
croutons for garnish.

1. Rinse lentils
2. Place in a saucepan with the water over medium heat and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for half an hour
4. Remove from heat; strain the lentil mixture through a vegetable strainer
5. Return the pureed lentil mixture to pot; cook over medium heat and stir in cumin, salt & pepper
6. Brown the chopped onion in oil or ghee, then add to the lentil mixture
7. Cook the lentils and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes only
8. Sprinkle the soup with chopped parsley & croutons

By Adam Groffman

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