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The Magic of Mujaddara…

April 8, 2014

Beans and rice have long been considered comfort food that was also affordable all over the world. You have red beans and rice in the southern United States, arroz con frijoles in Latin America, and ….mujaddara in the Middle East. While these dishes originated from a need to get maximum nutrition for very little money, these dishes are anything but poor in flavor. Mujaddara in particular, (actually lentils and rice)–is very rich in flavor brought to life from the sweetness of caramelized onions. Mujaddara is the term for this dish in Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine, but it’s also known as Mudardara in Syria, and Kushari in Egypt. My family makes this dish all throughout Lent, because not only is it vegetarian, it’s vegan! Top the mujaddara with crispy cucumber and tomato salad accented with mint. Your tummy and your taste buds will thank you as you take a forkful of warm and hearty lentils combined with the freshness and coolness of veggies. This makes a great picnic or potluck dish as it is meat free, impressive,  and tastes great hot or cold.

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So after a hiatus, here is my latest video on how to make this classic Arabic dish, bringing my talented mother into the mix. I would love your feedback–and feel free to “like” it, share it, make it, EAT it!

Directions:

1 cup lentils

1 cup rice, basmati or long grain

2 cups of water for the rice, plus additional water for the lentils

3 large onions

1 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

2 tsp cumin

½ tsp allspice (optional)

5 tbsp olive oil

For the salad

2 roma tomatoes (can use other kinds if you wish)

1 Persian cucumber

Juice of one lemon

1- 2  tbs olive oil

1 tbs. chopped fresh mint 

Salt to taste

Spread lentils out in a single layer on a white kitchen towel. Check for and discard any tiny stones. After checking through the lentils, place them in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. They are ready to cook after rinsing. Place the lentils in a large pot. Cover with water so that there is at least an inch of water over the lentils. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until tender—then drain out the water. With the lentils in the pot, add the rice, cumin, optional allspice, and salt and pepper to taste. Wait for the water to boil, and cover. Reduce heat until the rice is cooked and the lentils are tender (about 25 minutes).  In the meantime, heat the  oil in a separate skillet, and sauté the onions under medium heat until they are caramelized or deep brown in color. Pour the onions over the cooked rice and gently toss. In a separate bowl combine the tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, and mint. Serve the mujuddareh in dishes and allow guests to top their own plates with the amount of salad they wish.

 

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2014 1:51 pm

    I am a strict Vegetarian raised one and not going Vegan. I love Middle Eastern Cooking as it is very easy to find amazing Vegetarian foods all over the world. I am a Foodie as well and love to cook and introduce people to the Vegetarian life through foods from around the world. Thank you so much for your passion and inclusion of Vegetarian Cuisine through your cooking. I take and convert meat dishes to Vegetarian as I was raised Seventh Day Adventist and we advocate a Vegetarian diet based on the diet given in the Garden of Eden. I know this is how Jesus ate in the Holy Land and I cannot wait to break bread with him and maybe even cook of the King. This dish with the Lentils and rice looks amazing and I will be making it and I will send you a link and a email with a picture once I make it. Lentil Soup is one of my favorite comfort foods with rice during the winter months. Thanks so another use for my Lentil obsession. Lemon also are a staple in my cooking I use them in everything!!!! Thank you again for sharing your wonderful cuisine and talents. I hope to one day soon do exactly what you are doing as the Soul Gourmet Vegetarian Foods from Around the World. My pallet is very well developed as I have lived in Europe and studied in France. I am a world traveler and finding local Vegetarian favorites wherever I go is a treat. From India to The Holy Land from South America to Africa. It would be my pleasure and honor if you could help and give suggestions. I made some Tabouli the other day for some people that had only had store bought Tabouli and they said it was so good their brains were falling out and that my Tabouli should be on the banquet table in Heaven. What a compliment to think my food should be placed on the table before God!! WOW!! If only that is possible and a dream to work toward. Please if you would feel free to email me as to how I can too get started with my Cooking Show. That is on my bucket list for the next 50 years of my life as I turn 50 in September. Thank you for your time in reading this and know you have a new FAN!!! I will be watching and hope one day for you a Cooking TV program as this to is a dream for me. Maybe one day I can be a quest on your program. Love you having mom on the program as well. I learned cooking from my own mother, aunts, father, and mothers in the Church as well as Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby’s Chef lived next door to my grandmother and to this day she is my heroine and I fondly steal her recipes and convert them to Vegetarian. Thanks Mrs. Edith Bell for making me the Home Chef I am today!!! He daughter too was so influenced by her mother she too is one amazing Chef who graduated from the Cordon Bleu in Paris, so as you see I have had some amazing influences in my cooking life and now I hope to add you as well. I make amazing Falafels as well and just made up a batch along with some Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip and Garlic Dip. My house smells amazing. Forgot to save some of the chick peas for Humus oh well next time. No store bought for me!!!! Maybe one day we will dine together after creating amazing dishes for those we love. Thanks again and a FAN for life you have in MOI!!

    Dr. Moira Taylor
    California Native

    • May 22, 2014 11:27 pm

      Wow thanks for your kind e-mail. To be honest, it doesn’t take much to have your own cooking show–just some really good recipes and a great camera man. I actually spend quite a bit of my own money in making these videos, I know this sounds crazy, but so it is more about passion than anything else. Sounds like you have plenty of passion, now just get a good camera man/editor and you are on your way! Thanks again, and glad you are enjoying the dishes, this type of diet is truly the healthiest and tastiest there is! 😉

  2. Michelle permalink
    September 11, 2014 5:14 pm

    I love Koshari and yours looks amazing. The onions are what do it for me! I first met Koshari when living in Doha and when I lived in Egypt after the revolution, Tahrir Koshari was one of my favorite stops when I had business in the Square-and from the crowds trying to get into the restaurant, I’d say about everyone in Egypt had business at the Mogamma! (the garlic sauce. OH YEAH !) I think I am ready to try this at home! Thanks.

    • September 11, 2014 9:59 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story Michelle–what I would give to try authentic Egyptian koshari! Hope to do that in my lifetime, in the meantime I get a thrill from hearing other people’s experiences 🙂 And you are right…the onions make it. No onions make a very sad dish lol

  3. Cindie permalink
    October 24, 2014 9:31 am

    I love this recipe. But I thought I remembered a video where you cooked everything together adding in the lentils to the rice or vice versa. I made one change that I thought you would appreciate. I sprouted the lentils first to aid in digestion and to get added nutrients. Thank you for sharing!

    • October 24, 2014 1:10 pm

      What a great idea Cindie, I will try that next time! This is the only video I have made so far that uses lentils. I will be releasing another lentil recipe in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

  4. Luke permalink
    February 16, 2016 9:17 pm

    Excellent recipe. My wife is not a lentils fan and she ended up loving this dish. The texture of the lentils is just perfect. What amazes me about this dish is its simplicity and few ingredients. I did however take some time to prepare the dish as I wanted the onions to be perfect (i took 40 mins to caramelize them!).

    I made the salad as well with shallots instead of onions and that may have made it a little too pungent, but it was still good.

    • February 23, 2016 9:21 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this dish! Sounds like you did everything perfectly–I too take quite a bit of time to caramelize the onions because I believe it is key to making the flavors rich and sweet. So glad you converted your wife, as lentils are probably the most healthy thing you can eat on this planet right now! I appreciate your feedback so much 🙂

  5. Ivana permalink
    May 19, 2016 12:01 pm

    Hi Blanche! I tried this recipe and both my rice and lentils were still raw at the end :/ how long do you soak the rice for? It seems my 2 cups of water was not enough for either rice or lentils.

    • May 19, 2016 9:55 pm

      Hi Ivana! I usually soak the rice for about a 1/2 hour. Did you cook the lentils first for at least 10 minutes before adding the rice? Generally when making this dish it’s a good idea to check on it every 20 minutes or so to see if you need to add more boiling water. If the mixture dries out in the pot too soon and you taste it and it’s still not cooked, add a 1/2 cup boiling water at a time. Hope this helps! Once you boil the water with the rice and the lentils, you need to cover the pot and cook on a low simmer.

  6. Ivana permalink
    May 19, 2016 12:13 pm

    Also I should add the bottom of my pot was all mushy while the top remained raw. I’m not sure if I have a pot issue or if my heat is wrong or something else! Please help as I love this dish so much I really want to make it perfect

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