Opinion – Recipes from Marcão: Lentil soup brings the flavor of Iran without having to buy seasonings in the Persian market


Iran, which competes in the World Cup in the same group as the United States, has never had any relevance in world football. It has, however, enormous geopolitical, historical and cultural importance — which includes a very rich gastronomy.

It is understandable that we know little about Iran in Brazil. The religious regime does not invite tourism, and there are few Iranian immigrants here.

Despite the Muslim majority and writing in the Arabic alphabet, Iran is not an Arab country: the Persians are the most numerous ethnic group, and Persian is also the name of the most spoken language. In many situations, the words “Persian” and “Iranian” are interchangeable.

Reproducing Iranian cuisine in Brazil is a challenge because of the ingredients. The Persians have many unique spices, herbs and food products that don’t make it here. One of them is golpar, a plant from the carrot and parsley family. There are dozens of other examples.

In gigantic São Paulo, there are only two places I know of to eat a Persian meal.

One of them is Sabor da Persia, at the Kinjo Yamato market (opposite the Mercadão), specializing in grilled kebab (cafta). Among the restaurant’s concessions is the presence of beans in the side dishes.

The other isn’t exactly a restaurant. Amigo do Rei is a service of Persian dinners in the residence of a couple – he, Brazilian, waits for the tables; she, Iranian, cooks. They travel to Iran and bring, in their suitcases, ingredients that we will not be able to find.

Adasi, a comforting lentil soup, is served there. In Amigo do Rei, she takes the so-called coup and another spice called nigela, among other exotic spices. I searched on foreign blogs and found recipes that dispense with these ingredients — I’m sure they change the flavor a lot, but we work with what we have.

Lentil soup is never wrong. This one is accidentally vegan and different from what we know because the spice is halfway between the Mediterranean and India — just like Iran’s geographic position.

The onion sets the tone in two ways: sautéed, at the beginning of the preparation, and fried, served as a garnish. Good olive oil and fresh lemon juice also help with the finish. And a warm bread always goes well with any soup.


Difficulty: easy
Yield: 2 servings


120 g of lentils
1 tablespoon of olive oil (plus more for serving at the table)
2 sliced ​​onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
salt to taste
Vegetable oil (as needed)
Lemon and bread to serve

Way of doing

1 – Wash the lentils and let them soak for at least 1 hour;
2 – In a pan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic and half of the onion, until it starts to brown. Add the spices. Mix. Add the tomato paste;
3 – Drain the lentils (discard the water) and add them to the stew. Cover with water and cook over low heat (adding more water as needed) until the lentil is cooked into a thick stew;
4 – Heat the oil in a small skillet over high heat and fry the remaining onion by immersion;
5 – Adjust the salt of the lentils and serve them with the fried onion, olive oil and lemon to squeeze on the plate

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