Food / Vegetarian

Mujaddara

TBP – I ate this for breakfast. 100% no regrets.

Mujaddara in it’s most basic form is my ultimate poor and lazy food. It’s a pretty safe bet that no matter what else I’ve run out of, there are likely to be some onions, rice and lentils kicking around. The fresh herbs and the yoghurt transform it into a relaxed meal with something vaguely resembling nutritional value that I’m happy to serve my friends. It tastes even better the next day and it would also make an excellent side dish for some slow-cooked or grilled meat that needs bulking out. In short: Uni students of the world, unite behind mujaddara.

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Mujaddara (from Food 52)
Ingredients (serves 4 as side dish or 2 as main):
¾c puy lentils
1c jasmine rice
~3 large onions
3TB olive oil
Butter
1tsp salt (1/2 tsp for lentils, ½ tsp for rice)
½ c greek yoghurt (I love this stuff and often double the recipe in comparison to the mujaddara)
equal parts (~ ½ tsp or to taste) cinnamon, cumin, ground coriander, paprika
fresh mint and coriander
additional pinch of salt
juice and zest of half a lemon, or one or two limes
optional, if you are feeling especially healthy: some cauliflower

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Method:
Preheat your oven to 200C. If you know your oven can’t actually hold the temperature it’s set to, consider using another method of cooking the rice. If you want to eat this quickly, use separate pots for the rice and lentils and cook them simultaneously. On the other hand if you favour less cleaning up, just take turns using the same pot as the original recipe suggests.

Top and tail the onions, cut in half and then thinly slice so you have half-rings. Heat the butter and oil (butter to taste, the more the tastier) in a heavy frying pan and caramelise the onions over a low heat. This could take a solid half hour, so do this first. Covering the pan with a lid, if you have one that fits, will help soften the onions to start with. When they are approaching done, crank the heat up to high, stop stirring and keep a close eye on the pan. Ideally, you want a nice layer of crunchy (but not burnt) onions to provide a bit of textural contrast.

Once the onions are happily frying away, put the lentils in a medium sized pot (oven proof, if the pot is doing double duty) with a ½ tsp of salt and 4 cups of water. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy (around 20 minutes).

To cook the rice, place the remaining ½ tsp of salt, 1 and a ½ cups of water and the rice to an oven proof saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and cook in the preheated oven for exactly 17 minutes. Fluff the grains up with a fork, and it’s finished. It’s AMAZING. The day we learned to cook rice in school our teacher managed to set the example she was doing in the microwave ON FIRE which has stuck with me for years and consequently blotted out every other method of cooking rice. So this is a bit of a godsend for me.

If you’d like to add another vegie, we found that some cauliflower chopped into florets, tossed with olive oil and roasted in the oven while we prepared everything else went with the caramelised onion quite nicely.

Combine the yoghurt, spices, salt and citrus juice in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Drain the lentils and combine with the cooked rice. Add the fried onions (and any remaining oil or melted butter from the pan) and stir through. Serve with a hefty spoonful of yoghurt and some fresh mint and coriander.

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