Hora’a Osbao (Syrian Lentil Salad with Cilantro and Pita Chips)

My aunt in Damascus taught me to make this eye-popping vegan salad brimming with sumac, fresh herbs, and pomegranate molasses.

  • Serves

    4–6 as an appetizer

  • Cook

    1 hour 15 minutes


By Nora Hinnawi

Published on November 29, 2022

Making hora’a osbao, Syrian lentil salad with cilantro and pita chips, requires a decent amount of chopping and boiling and juicing and straining, so give yourself time to enjoy the process. That said, to make a quicker version, use leftover lentils and pasta and store-bought pita chips in any proportion you fancy. The recipe can be doubled (or tripled or quadrupled) for a crowd. There is no be-all-end-all way to present the final dish; some cooks arrange the components in diagonal lines or concentric X’s, while others take a more freeform approach.

Featured in “The Syrian Vegan Party Dish of Your Dreams,” by Nora Hinnawi.


  • Kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup ditalini, or other small dried pasta
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 pita rounds, cut into 1-in. pieces
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup finely chopped garlic (about 11 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground sumac


Step 1

In a medium pot, bring 3 cups of generously salted water to a boil. Add the lentils, turn the heat to medium, and boil gently until soft, about 35 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Step 2

Fill the empty pot halfway with generously salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 5–7 minutes. Strain, return the pasta to the pot, and stir in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Set aside.

Step 3

While the lentils and pasta cook, make the pita chips: Into a large skillet set over medium-high heat, pour the vegetable oil to a depth of ½ inch. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the pita and fry, stirring frequently, until crisp and deep golden brown, 3–5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Discard the excess oil, wipe out the skillet, and return it to the stove.

Step 4

To the empty skillet, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the onions and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and dark brown in spots, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt, then wipe out the skillet and return it to the stove.

Step 5

To the empty skillet, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and cilantro and cook, stirring frequently, until the cilantro is wilted and the garlic is softened but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Step 6

Assemble the hora’a osbao: Onto a medium rimmed serving dish, spread the lentils in an even layer. Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, divide the lentils into four rows, leaving a gap between each. Fill the gaps with the pasta, then arrange the onion and cilantro mixtures in thin lines alongside the pasta. Decorate as desired with the pita chips, then drizzle all over with the pomegranate molasses and fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with the sumac. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

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