A Delightful Plate Of Lebanese Mujaddara (Lentils & Rice)

Lentils & Rice

Lentils & Rice 3

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Method:

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in pot.
  2. Add sliced onions. Fry 15min till browned and caramelised. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in dutch oven.
  4. Add chopped onions. Stir-fry for 1 min.
  5. Add tomatoes and chillies. Fry for another min.
  6. Add rice, lentils, ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir to mix.
  7. Add stock. Leave to simmer for 20min till rice becomes cooked and fluffy.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and browned onions to serve.

Lentils & Rice 2

Tricks:

  • 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.

Disclaimer:

  • This recipe was kindly adapted from Asian Rice Dishes by Lee Geok Boi.

Serving:
6 persons

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