Mujaddara (مجدرة) is, quite simply, cooked lentils, combined with cooked grain (usually rice), combined with a fairly large quantity of caramelized onions. It is the latter which lends the high-impact flavor of the mujaddara. Today, it is commonly attributed to Lebanese cuisine, but in fact the first recorded recipe of mujaddara comes from a Baghdadi cookbook, and is hence of Iraqi origins.Mujaddara is a very economical dish to prepare, and would satisfy and provide nutrition enough for a soldier. It is very similar to the Egyptian koushari, only it lacks the pasta and tomato sauce to qualify. I personally prefer mujaddara to koushari, though both are magnificent dishes.
I highly recommend this dish along with some simple grilled meat and Nadia’s cabbage salad.
Adapted from Lebanese Recipes.
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
3 cups onions, roughly chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
Cook rice by sauteeing in a teaspoon of oil, adding a teaspoon of salt, then just covering with boiled water.
Bring to the boil, immediately cover the pot and reduce heat to low and let simmer 20 minutes until cooked.
When rice is done, cover and keep warm until you add it to the lentils.
While the rice is cooking, rinse lentils, then place in heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, cover with three times the volume of water, and let lentils simmer over very low heat uncovered until they are soft about 20-30 minutes.
When lentils are cooked, remove from heat, cover and set aside to let them absorb any leftover water.
While lentils cook, chop onions roughly.
Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan, then add onions, reduce heat to medium-low and start to brown onions, stirring every few minutes.
Continue to cook onions, stirring often, until they are deeply browned and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.
Don’t rush this step; the onions will be bitter if they’re cooked at high heat.
When onions are browned, remove half the onions to drain on a paper towel to crisp.
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp cumin into the rest of the onions in the pan and saute 1-2 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked lentils to the pan with the onions, leaving behind any water that’s not absorbed.
Gently mix cooked rice into the lentils and caramelized onions, heating for a minute or two if the rice is not hot.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Put Mujadarra on a serving dish, top with crispy caramelized onions, and serve hot or warm.