Mujaddara was on my 'to do' list when I participated in 'Around the World' themed blogging marathon last September. However some other tempting dishes took precedence and this humble treat had to wait up until now. Don't judge this simple yet flavorful Arabian pilaf by my presentation above there. I was hungry and there was zero sunlight when I captured that image. :)
Mujaddara is the Arabian version of rice-lentil pilaf sans vegetables and is generously garnished with crisp fried onion slices. It is alternatively also called as mudardara (Lebanon) and majadra (Israel). Some regions keep the dish to the basic minimum using just rice, lentils, onion and salt, while some flavor the dish with cumin and pepper. This simple one pot meal is very popular in Arabian countries and I now completely understand why. It is delicious, healthy and a filling meal on it's own. It is one of those dishes that prove that you can create magic even using the ingredients from a humble pantry.
The first recorded meat version of this recipe was found in an Iraqi book, during 13th century. The basic vegetarian version was mostly considered a poor man's food since it is a frugal meal. Mujaddara is equally popular among Arab Christian and Jewish communities. Traditionally, Jewish ate this dish twice a week while it is eaten during Lent by Christians. (From wiki.) Mujaddara is served along with yogurt and plain cucumber salad or as a part of an Arabic feast.
Ingredients: (3 servings)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 cup brown lentils / green lentils (I used brown lentils)
1/2 cup long grain rice
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion slices. Stir onion slices to coat them well with the oil. Spread the onion slices evenly in the pan and keep stirring them intermittently until they brown. (I cooked them on medium flame). Don't allow the onions to burn. If they appear dry, sprinkle some salt or add a little oil / water and continue. Remove the fried onions with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
2. To the same pan, add cumin seeds. (If there is no oil left in the pan, add a tsp of oil and heat it before adding cumin seeds.) When cumin seeds start to brown, add cumin powder and pepper powder to the pan and stir. Then add rinsed rice and lentil mixture, half of the fried onion mixture and about 1 cup water + 2 tbsp water (I used the same measuring cups used for the dry ingredients and didn't add the fried onions in this step).
3. Cover and let cook on low medium flame until done. (I poured the mixture into a steel container and steamed in the pressure cooker without the whistle on. The brown lentils were turning mushy when cooked in the pressure cooker even for 1 whistle and so I choose to just steam it without using the whistle. One can transfer the contents to the rice cooker as well and cook. When properly done, the rice must be cooked well and the lentils should still hold the shape.)
4. Add salt to the cooked mujaddara and just stir to mix. Garnish with fried onions and serve with plain yogurt if desired.
This goes to BM #48 for under "1 Cuisine - 3 Dishes" - Arabian Cuisine theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marath on #48.