Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lentil stuffed pita pockets

Ever since I saw this Mark Bittman's sloppy joe pita recipe in Cooking Light I have itching to try it out. Honestly, whats not there to love when you have warm toasted pitas stuffed with warm and spicy lentil stuffing, some cool mint yogurt sauce and cucumber! 

I always have a pack of Trader Joe's whole wheat pitas at hand. Came home from work late. Quickly chopped some onions, tomatoes and garlic and put the lentils to cook (hardly 10min prep time). The lentil cooking time of around half an hour was largely unattended in which I made myself a hot decaf with a slice of toast and watched some mindless television to unwind the day :) Once the lentils were ready, the whole assembly took another 15mins and thats it, dinner is served! I substituted fresh avocado slices for the cucumber slices and finished with a tangy sweet jalapeno sauce that I found at a local Afghan grocer for some extra kick. All in all, a dinner well served! 

Source: Mark Bittman's sloppy joe pitas in Cooking Light
For the lentil filling:
3/4C French lentils (or brown lentils or masoor)
2C water (or per the lentil cooking instructions)
1 medium onion - chopped
3 cloves of garlic - smashed
2 tomatoes - chopped
handful of fresh thyme chopped (or dried thyme)
1.5tsp cumin powder
1Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

For Yogurt Raita:
1/2C non-fat yogurt
few Tbsp of water
handful of chopped fresh mint
dash of red wine vinegar
pinch of crushed red chili flakes

For vegetables in the filling:
1 fresh avocado - sliced
OR 1 cucumber - chopped
some fresh mint

For assembly:
4 whole wheat pitas
hot sauce of your choice (I used an Afghan bolani jalapeno sauce)

Prepare the lentil filling:
Saute chopped onions and garlic in a Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. When the onions start to tender, add cumin powder and roast for a minute or two. Follow up with some chopped tomatoes, lentils, water and enough salt. Let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer covered for 30mins or so or until the lentils have cooked through (but not turned mushy). Add more water if you need it during the cooking process. When the lentils have cooked through turn the heat off, add thyme and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Prepare the raita:
Assemble all the raita ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings per taste.

Toast the whole wheat pitas and then cut them into halves diametrically. Using your fingers or a knife open the pitas up. Spread the raita on one side. Add few Tbsp of lentil mixture into the pita. Add a few avocado or cucumber slices, some chopped mint and finish with a dash of hot sauce.


  1. Now I have to fetch a pita bread from market. I love the addition of cucumber and it's low-fat version. Your pic is making me hungry and glad to learn an easy-peasy recipe from you today! :)

  2. Wow!! that is too tempting .Healthy and filling also

  3. oh yea thts as quick as it can get..i do the same on lazy days

  4. Such a healthy,filling at the same time a wholesome sandwich..

  5. Great looking and delicious Pita pockets...would love to have this for dinner :-)

  6. I feel inspired to make pita pockets now:-) Very nice filling too.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  7. This is indeed a healthy meal in minutes! I love the idea of brown lentils in pita pockets!

  8. Looks like the perfect summer meal! Your pics are always so fetching.

  9. looks perfect ...should try this !!

  10. Simple and healthy, love the filling, definitely tasted yummy...

  11. i would love to catch the pita pockets from the picture itself...too marvellous..

  12. Amazing pita pockets PJ.Irresistable...

    Kairali sisters

  13. Sonia, fetch the pitas asap :) thanks!

    Padhu, thanks, so glad you liked it.

    An open book, oh, stuffed pita pockets is always so good for lazy days. just stuff with whatever is left over and dress it up :)

    Priya, thanks!

    Rachana, thanks!

    Deepa, thanks, that now makes me so happy :)

    Preeti, i liked it the same minute i saw it too.

    Nupur, thanks, that makes me happy now :)

  14. Lassie, thanks!

    SE, thanks.

    Treat and trick, thanks, i am so glad you liked it.

    Reshmi, pita pockets are sure so versatile, aren't they, and picture friendly too ;)

    Kairali sisters, thanks! So glad you liked it.

  15. Looks worth a try, very delicious as well as healthy one pj...

  16. PJ, you have me scrambling for pita and lentils. Looks fantastic.

    I am curious about that Afghani hot sauce too.

  17. lovely one dish quick dinner.
    thanks for the book club link PJ.

  18. I almost picked up some pitas yesterday, but already had too much bread in the house! Otherwise I have everything else. I love it, perfect for that mid week meal. Yummy!

  19. Looks so filling and perfect for summer..

  20. Love the filling with lentils and cool mint sauce! Very easy breezy recipe :)

  21. So healthy and quick too. Picture is wonderful.

  22. Sushma, thanks, I hope you try it!

    Indo, its the most interesting sweet jalapeno sauce.. slightly sweet, slightly hot and slightly sour. i use it everyhwere.

    Sayantani, no problem! hope you join us :)

    Lyndsey, there is always the next time :)

    Panchpakwan, thanks, yes it is ideal for summer and picnics (if lightly stuffed)

    Cham & N S, thanks, so glad you both liked it.

  23. Between Bittman and legumes, I can't think of anything else that I really eat these days! The pitas look delicious! Love that filling.

  24. Delicious pita filling!!I don't get pita here so im gona try it with Chapathi..Will let u knw how it turns out..

  25. I have made lentils dishes countless times but I never thought of using them in a sandwich like this; such a wonderful idea.

  26. Joanne, Bittman recipes are really good though; specially the vegetarian ones!

    PJ, should work well with chapatis.. the only thing I wonder is if the chapatis will be too thin enough to hold the filling without sogging or breaking. let me know how it goes.

    TatseOfBeirut, thanks, pita sandwiches are very versatile.. put anything in them, dress it up and they are ready to go :)

  27. I am on a total lentil kick. I made some today. I will have to try your recipe.

  28. I love this lentil stuffed pita pockets.. thats really wholesome meal.. absoulutely delicious PJ..

  29. I love Mark Bittman. I'm only sad that I now live in a city with no Trader Joe's. Ah, one day, the stars will align once again. In the meantime, this recipe still looks delicious :)

  30. like sonia, just pitta bread I have to buy!! looks so gud...

  31. I made this dish. It was fabulous. Thank you for showing it on your blog!


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