I first tried mujadara at one of my local eateries, which is a family run Lebanese food shop based in Sunnyside, Queens. Lately, I have tended to make my own renditions, as the shop's quality has lagged recently. And initially I thought, how hard is it to make lentils with rice? Well, it's not that simple, really! But that shouldn't stop you from trying this awesome dish.
Wanting to find a recipe, I consulted a book I found at Argosy books. My years of perusing their shelves have led me to finding some awesome books, including Egyptian Cooking: A Practical Guide. Don't ask me why this book caught my eye, but the cover talked to me right away! Though it's said to be from the levant, I guess with all the historical interchange, this is a good source as any. My local guy wasn't giving me any hints, as his recipe was a family secret.
I followed the book's basic recipe but adapted it to my taste and what I had on hand in my pantry.
Serves two hungry people and a few more, quite filling.
1 cup of brown lentils
1/2 cup of rice (Basmati, Egyptian if you can find it, or like me I used Jasmine.)
2 3/4 cup of water…a little bit more can be added if needed.
1 onion, red, white or yellow, I used shallots..nothing is sacred in cooking.
3 Tblsp. Olive oil
about a teaspoon of cumin, seed or ground.(toast and grind cumin)
1/4 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp. of Turmeric (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Slice onion thinly, (shallots), in a pan add about 3 tblsp oil over medium heat, add sliced onions. Stirring every minute or two till you notice them getting a golden hue, continue stirring making sure to keep the onions coloring evenly. You want a toasty onion, remove from oil to a paper towel to absorb the oil, season with salt.
Clean lentils for stones, and wash. Cover with 2 cups of water and bring to boil. Cook until it starts to get tender…the book says till soft, I don't like it too mushy.
Add rice, spices and cover with remaining water, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes covered on low heat.Season with salt and pepper. With lid on allow it to rest for a good five minutes, toss with a fork and check to see that it is cooked.
Cover mudjadara with fried onion, and stir into the rice and lentil.