This is a popular Middle Eastern dish made of lentils and rice. (With many spellings, it’s also known 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 it’s sleeve that elevate the dish way beyond a simple rice and beans dish.
This particular version is adapted from a recipe I clipped from the Chicago Tribune some years back.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion or 2 small onions, one half diced, one half thinly sliced into half-moons
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup green lentils, picked over
- 1/2 cup brown basmati rice, picked over and rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint, cut in a chiffonade
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, until onions soften. Add the cumin, allspice, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about half a minute. Add the rice, lentils and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Allow to cook undisturbed for about half an hour.
- While the lentils and rice are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown and crispy. Set aside.
- Check the lentils and rice. If most of the stock is absorbed, turn off the heat. Let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.
- Spoon lentils and rice into bowls. Garnish with crispy onions and fresh mint. Serve.
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.