Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mujadarrah)

This is what we are having for dinner tonight. It's a classic Arabic comfort food and is so simple, yet so good. Don't be turned off by the lack of ingredients; its beauty is in its simplicity.

The dish gets a lot of its flavor from the onions being caramelized, so don't worry about cooking them too long. You want them dark and almost burnt. The yogurt topping is a must, too. The Arabic yogurt has an extra tang to it and can be found in Middle Eastern markets, but plain yogurt can be used just as easily.

Some people add a bouillon cube to the pot, but I never do. If you worry that it might be too bland by the description, go ahead and add a veggie or chicken one, but traditionalists would shake their heads.

This recipe will make plenty, and leftovers taste even better the next day for lunch!

Lentils and Rice (Mujadarrah)
Served 4

6 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 large white onions, sliced into rings
1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
1 cup uncooked white long-grain rice
One healthy pinch of ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup or more leban (Arabic yogurt) or plain yogurt

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook until they are very brown and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Place lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes, making sure the water doesn't cook out.

3. Stir rice and enough water to cover into the saucepan of lentils. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Cover saucepan, reduce heat to low, and continue to simmer 15-20 minutes until rice and lentils are tender. If water cooks out before rice is done, just add a little more.

4. Mix half the onions into the lentil mixture. Top with yogurt and remaining onions to serve.

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