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Mujadara

Mujadara

Another dish with multiple origins and multiple spellings, Mujadra and its crowd-pleasing status has kept it popular for centuries. It’s mouth-watering and savory — and that’s even before we add caramelized onions!

We’re inspired by Michael Solomonov’s take on the dish in his cookbook ‘Zahav,’ not to mention where in the Bible he thinks it derives, and we hope you’ll be just as inspired to make this at home.
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For the onions:

  • 4 brown onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For lentils:

  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 centimeters sized piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled
  • ½ onion, unpeeled
  • 1 head garlic cut in half, through the middle
  • 4 cups water

For rice:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ onion chopped very finely
  • 2 cups white long-grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon Baharat spice*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 4 cups water

For caramelized onions: In a large sauté pan, heat the oil, add the onions, and stir occasionally. Fry the onions until very dark and mahogany-colored, but not burnt. This may take up to 45 minutes – but it’s totally worth the effort.

For the lentils: Combine the lentils, cinnamon, ginger, onion, and garlic in a medium saucepan set over a medium flame, and add the water. Bring the contents of the pot to the boil, lower the heat so that the water stays at a rolling boil and cook until the lentils are soft. Drain the lentils, and when cool enough to handle pick out the cinnamon, onion, garlic, and ginger. Set aside.

For the rice: In a large sauté pan with high sides and a cover, heat the oil, add the chopped onion, and fry until the onion looks translucent and soft. Add the rice to the onion and stir so that the grains are covered in oil and just start to turn translucent, add the Baharat spice and salt and pepper and stir until well mixed. Add the water, bring it to a boil, and then lower the heat to a slow simmer.
At this point LEAVE IT ALONE! Cover the pan and let it cook until the rice is cooked through and the water has been absorbed. Once cooked, turn off the heat and let the rice sit for about 10 minutes (rice needs a bit of time to contemplate its existence).

To assemble: After the rice has rested, mix in the lentils with a rice paddle or a wooden spatula. Just before serving, top with fried onions.

*Baharat is a pre-packaged spice blend that can be found in many Kosher and Middle Eastern shops. While some of the ingredients may vary from label to label, it should definitely include cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and coriander.