I had half a packet of green lentils that remained after I cooked the lentil soup from Frankfurt a couple of weeks ago. I did not like the idea of them sitting in the cupboard for the rest of the year and then getting forgotten and ignored and purged out of my mind. So I decided to actively search for a recipe that could make good use of the floury characteristic of lentils.
I first decided to combine lentils with rice, as it’s probably easier and makes for a heartier meal that way. It was with pure luck that I could find such a matching recipe in one of my cookbooks Asian Rice Dishes, and that it was not too complicated to make at all. Great!
I later discovered that lentils and rice as a dish is actually Lebanese in origin, otherwise known as mujaddara in Arabic, meaning ‘pockmarked’. (Note that there are alternative spellings of ‘mujaddara’ in English). This is a popular vegetarian dish in the Middle Eastern worlds that started out as a ‘poor man’s rice’ and that evolved into a widely consumed staple, what with its high carbo value and spicy flavours. And I can easily understand why it is so popular – the combination of lentils and rice is a match made in heaven. The texture of the dish comforts the palate and the spiced taste is familiar yet differently fragrant.
You’ll have to give this a try to know what I mean.
- Oil: 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
- Yellow onion: 2, 1 sliced into half moons, 1 finely chopped
- Tomato: 2, diced
- Red chilli: 2, chopped
- Uncooked rice: 4 cups, washed
- Green lentil: 2 cups, soaked in water for 1 hr
- *Ground cumin: a pinch
- *Ground coriander: a pinch
- *Ground cinnamon: a pinch
- *Ground nutmeg: a pinch
- Salt: 2 tsp
- Vegetable stock: 1 litre
- Cilantro: 1 stalk, chopped
*All spices to make up about 1 tsp of powder altogether.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in pot.
- Add sliced onions. Fry 15min till browned and caramelised. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in dutch oven.
- Add chopped onions. Stir-fry for 1 min.
- Add tomatoes and chillies. Fry for another min.
- Add rice, lentils, ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir to mix.
- Add stock. Leave to simmer for 20min till rice becomes cooked and fluffy.
- Garnish with cilantro and browned onions to serve.
- Replace spices with 1 tsp garam masala if you do not have each one of them individually.
- The red chillies are optional. I added them in to up the level of spiciness but that could be omitted if you wish.
- This recipe was kindly adapted from Asian Rice Dishes by Lee Geok Boi.