Recipe: Rice and Lentils Mejadra style (Mujaddara)
Mejadra (rice and lentils) is a dish from the Levantine region that has traveled all over the world and has seen as many reinterpretations as possible, the most notable being the Hindu version of it (at least, that’s mho). In Mexico, I ate this dish whenever my parents would bring us to eat Lebanese food, a very common *ethnic* cuisine that is easily accessible in most of the territory, however the Israelian-ish version I ate at Magdalena was the best I´ve ever had, of course, their version is an upscale one of the New Arabic Cuisine, and my intentions when I cook at home is to keep things delicious but simple, so I mixed several Mejadra recipes I found here and there, and I came up with my own hybrid version.
Let me know what you think of it.
Levantine rice and lentils dish that can be eaten cold or hot. This substantial grains combination gets a sidekick from spices and fried onions. We served it with big dollops of greek yogurt (but thick labneh would be great) and some harissa to add more heat. It can be enjoyed on its own, or as a comforting side of meatballs, falafel, or lamb.
Servings: 4 pax
250 gr brown or green lentils (about 1 cup)
250 gr brown rice (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp olive oil
Spices (use the measurements as a guideline but follow your own instinct and palate, we’re very used to eat spices in our food but if you´re not, then lower down the amount, taste and add some more if needed)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1 pinch brown sugar
Salt and pepper
2 cups of water
Toppings: half cup of cooked chickpeas/ peas, raisins (optional)
about 4 medium size onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cooking oil of your choice
Cook the lentils in a small saucepan covered with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are soft but still have a bite. Remove from heat and drain into a colander. Keep aside.
Place a medium-sized heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and toast the seeds, just a minute or two or until they start to release their aromas. Add the rest of the spices, sugar, and olive oil. Add the rice and stir to coat it, add water, salt, and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, once it started to boil lower the temperature to very low heat and let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, heat the cooking oil in another heavy-based saucepan. When very hot (but not smoky) add about a third of the sliced onions. Fry them until they start to caramelize and turned crispy. Use a spoon to transfer the fried onions into a colander covered with some absorbing kitchen paper to eliminate the excess of oil. Repeat until you have fried all the sliced onions. You can add some salt and pepper to the fried onions while still warm, although I didn´t.
Once the rice is cooked remove the saucepan from the heat, lift off the lid, fluff the rice with a fork if needed, cover again and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Passed this time remove the lid, add the cooked lentils, half the amount of the fried onions (and the suggested toppings if you feel inclined to), mix gently with a fork, taste and rectify the seasonings if needed. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl and serve with the rest of the fried onions, greek yogurt, and harissa.