This is a popular Middle Eastern dish made of lentils and rice. (It has quite a few spellings. You might see it as: mujadrah, mujaddara, moujadara, mejadra, mudardara and megadara.) Food doesn’t really get more basic than lentils and rice, but this recipe has a couple tricks up its sleeve that elevate the dish way beyond a simple rice and beans dish.
Mujadara (Lentils and Rice)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil + more for the pot
- 1 large yellow onion, one half diced, one half thinly sliced root to stem
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups gluten-free vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
- 1/2 cup brown lentils, picked through
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint, thinly sliced
- Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pot with oil. Add the diced onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion softens. Add the cumin, allspice, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the vegetable broth, rice, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook undisturbed for about 30-40 minutes.
- While the lentils and rice are cooking, heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add the 1 teaspoon oil, and lower the heat slightly to just under medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is brown and frizzled, about 15 minutes.
- Check the lentils and rice. If the broth is absorbed, turn off the heat. If broth is not absorbed, cook another 5-10 minutes. Let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.
- Spoon the lentils and rice into bowls. Garnish with frizzled onion and fresh mint.
There have been times when I was lazy and I didn’t bother with the crispy onions or the fresh mint. Don’t be lazy.
The crispy onions could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Depends on your heat and exactly how crispy you’d like them. The trick is to let them sit and not stir them too frequently. Wait until there’s some browning, then stir. The amount of time needed between stirring will decrease as the onions cook. Watch them carefully towards the end so you don’t have burnt onions. Burnt onions are not nearly as tasty.
If you can’t find brown basmati rice, substitute any other medium to long grain brown rice. Brown basmati is lovely though.
As you see in the first picture, you can add a dollop of plain yogurt as an additional garnish.