As a member of the European Parliament, I live and breathe high-level politics almost all hours of the day. Nevertheless, it is the politics of the smallest things in our daily lives that are the most interesting to me.
Belonging to an oppressed group, the Kurdish people, I realised early on how important and political cultural expression can be. For example, the Kurdish language was prohibited in public and private life in Turkey. This is only one of many brutal ways in which Turkey has attempted – and is still attempting – to erase the Kurdish identity.
Preparing and eating Kurdish food can therefore be seen as an act of resistance and is a central way for the Kurdish community to practice and gather around our traditions. What one eats also reflects one’s socioeconomic situation: I was born in a poor neighbourhood of the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, where money was tight. That is why I want to share my recipe for nîsk, the lentil soup that was a staple in my Kurdish home and my favourite dish growing up – its flavours immediately take me back to my childhood in Diyarbakir. The soup should, of course, be prepared by my grandma for the best experience, but since moving to Brussels, I must admit that I have gotten the hang of the recipe myself (the trick is to exaggerate the spices). During my years as a law student at Uppsala University in Sweden, it also helped me to live frugally. I should also add that the soup is vegetarian, which is the responsible way to eat if we want a peaceful and sustainable future.
Let us never forget the politics of our food, and I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I did during my childhood!
- 350 grams red lentils
- 1 litre water
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of chili powder
- 2 large spoonfuls of olive oil
- 1 large spoonful of tomato paste
- Optional: 1 medium potato, cubed
Rinse the red lentils. Boil the water and add the lentils to the pot. Then add the salt, chili powder and 1 large spoonful of olive oil.
Heat 1 large spoonful of olive oil in a frying pan and add the tomato paste. The tomato paste should reach a darker red colour but be careful not to burn it. Add the tomato paste into the boiling mixture of water and lentils.
The soup is finished when the lentils are cooked and have a smooth consistency. To make it even smoother, you can use an electric hand mixer.
If you want to make the soup more filing, add potato cubes after adding the tomato paste and blending it with an electric hand mixer. The potato cubs should be soft before serving.
Best accompanied by bread and/or raw onion.