The On Being Project

Comfort Food for the Soul

It’s cold. It’s the raw, nasty kind of cold. The kind of cold that makes your bones hurt kind of cold. The kind of cold that makes you tear up, and then watch your tears freeze kind of cold. The kind of cold that radiates up from the floor and gets in from the walls kind of cold. The kind of cold that makes me reach for the warm kind of comfort food.

Comfort food is usually something that takes me back to my childhood, to my momma’s food. Everyone’s comfort food is different, and mine is called “adasee.“ When it is cold, my mom’s lentil dish brings me comfort.

It’s a thick soup, a super-simple, warm, ooey-gooey comfort goodness that starts with the stomach and reaches up to your heart and then back into your soul kind of comfort food.

Adasee is a really simple dish. You start with lentils. Almost any kind of lentils would do, but a kind that won’t turn to mush when cooked is best. (These days, my mom likes a kind of red lentils for it.) Here are the ingredients:

1 cup of lentils
2 cups of water

Bring the water to boil, then add the lentils and the following ingredients:

A little bit of salt
A little bit of cinnamon
About 3 teaspoons of butter

When the mixture has cooked for about 20-30 minutes on a slow boil, mix a little bit of flour with some water, and add it to the soup. That’s it. Inexpensive, yummy, vegetarian, and high protein. And oh so good.

Put some in a small bowl and “Noosh-e jaan,” May it be sustenance to your soul. That’s the Persian phrase for bon appétit.

I like mine simple, the way my mom makes it. Some people go wild, adding fried onions, garlic, turmeric, vegetable/chicken stock, and other ingredients. To each his/her own. May it be sustenance to your soul.

(Azita Mehran / Flickr )

I have been thinking of this lentil dish and how it comforts my soul — and wondering what brings comfort to our soul. Have you looked into your soul? Do you know what the comfort food for your soul is, when the cold season of the heart and soul hits hard?

I have been wondering what it would be like for us to be comfort food to one another. I wonder what it would be like for our touch to bring comfort. I wonder what it would be like for our glances to bring comfort. I wonder what it would be like for our words to bring comfort.

Comfort food is usually not fast food. Comfort food usually takes time to slow cook. I wonder what it would be like to take our time in our friendship. I wonder what it would be like to take our time in love. I wonder what it would be like to take our time, to have the spices of our life — the sweet and the salty, the exhilarating and the comforting — come together.

We speak so often of finding “passion” in our life, especially in our romance. And yet when the cold winter hits, we usually reach not for the passionate and the exotic but for the comfort.

May we learn to cherish the comfort as well as the passion.

May we cherish those who comfort us.

May we be a comfort to those around us.

Noosh-e Jaan.
May it be comfort and sustenance for your heart and soul.

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