Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Sages eat slowly, devotees 'til they're half full,
Hermits eat barely enough to stay alive,
Young men stop
only when the table is cleared,
Old men eat
until perspiration runs down their cheeks.
But Qalandars eat
until they're so full they can't breathe
and there isn't a bite left for anyone else!
The Mess-of-Pottage
What's in the pot?
Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for love of this dish. It was an everyday meal of Mevlana's time, and continues to be popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Nizamuddin Auliya regularly served this dish to guests at his dargah. In Egypt, it is known as koshary, in India as khichri. Every cook has her own "just right" proportion of rice to lentils.
Total time: 2 hours
3 cups lentils
10 cups water
½ cup olive oil (for lentils)
1 cup, finely chopped onion
2 cups rice
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
4 cups onions, in half-moon slices
½ cup olive oil (for onions)

In a large pot over medium heat, bring the water to a boil, then add the lentils and olive oil, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are barely tender, about an hour. Once the lentils are tender, add the finely chopped onion, rice, salt and pepper to the pot. Let the pottage simmer for another 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. While the lentils cook, sauté the onions in olive oil until they are very brown. Pour the pottage into a large serving dish, and garnish with the remaining onions, and parsley, olives or radishes. Allow the dish to rest and cool for at least ½ hour before serving.