Mujaddara - Lentils, Rice, & Carmelized Onions - with a Veggie Salad
Mujaddara is pure Levantine comfort food. The Levant region of the Middle East (the Eastern Mediterranean countries) has some of my favorite food in the world. Think: rice, cucumbers, mint leaves, pomegranate, tons of spices, olives, hummus, etc. This dish is no exception. It's delicious.
I don't like to serve mujaddara without a salad - it seems too heavy on it's own. It's also delicious with a minted yogurt. I wanted to show how this dish could be served vegan though, so I didn't include yogurt in these photos. Tonight, we'll be eating it as pictured, but when I take it to work tomorrow for lunch, I'll take along some yogurt and maybe some golden raisins to mix in the mujaddara to change it up.
This recipe is a perfect use of my mandoline. I don't like using it when there aren't lots of veggies to chop, because it's more time consuming to clean than a simple chef's knife. For this dish, four onions have to be chopped, plus the radishes for the salad. I saved myself tons of time using my mandoline. Just be careful with your fingers, if you decide to use one!
There are a few things to mention about this recipe:
Be careful with the oil, it can spit when you throw in the onions. Don't try to fry different kinds of onions together - they have different fry times (learned this one the hard way!) So if you don't have four white onions, and you decide to use two red ones and two white ones, just keep them separate for the frying bit. You can use brown rice in this recipe if you don't eat white rice, but it needs to be soaked for an hour before using it - otherwise it will be too crispy compared to the lentils (also, learned this one the hard way).
Mujaddara with a Veggie Salad
Makes 6 servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 55 minutes
4 white onions, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cup green lentils
4 cups water
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups safflower oil
1 cup jasmine rice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
salt, to taste
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3 small cucumbers, diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
5 radishes, thinly sliced
handful of mint leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
Place the lentils and the water in a saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then set aside.
Spread the onions out on a cutting board and sprinkle a little salt and the flour over them. Mix them to coat.
Heat 1 cup of the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over high heat. Test to see if the oil is ready by putting a small piece of onion in - if it sizzles immediately it's ready.
Reduce the heat to medium-high and add 1/3 of the onions. Do not overcrowd the onions. Using tongs, spread the onions out around the pot. Let fry, stirring occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes.
Once the onion is crispy and golden brown, remove it from the pot and place in a colander lined with paper towel (this will soak up the excess oil). Repeat with the rest of the onions.
Once the onions are fried, dispose of the oil from the pot and return it to the stove over medium heat. Add the rice, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and allspice. Let toast for 30 seconds, stirring gently.
Add the lentils (with their water) to the rice and spices. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
While the lentils and rice cook, combine all the ingredients for the salad in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
Remove the pot from the heat, lift the lid, and cover with a dish towel and place the lid back on. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and towel and stir gently. Add half the fried onions and stir to combine.
Place in a large serving bowl or plate individually and add the rest of the onions to the top. Serve with the veggie salad.
This recipe is adapted from the mujaddara recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi.