Sunday, 13 November 2016

mujaddara - middle eastern lentil pilaf with caramelised onions

Every culture has a few one pot dishes that are easy to make and are super satisfying. These dishes usually consist of a carbohydrate and some sort of protein. Mujaddara contains both and also has the added benefit of being vegetarian. It’s one of my favourite go to recipes for when I want a simple yet tasty meal. I like it with a dollop of yoghurt and a generous sprinkling of slightly tangy sumac on the side. The lentils should be soft, yet still maintain a little of their shape. Traditionally brown lentils are used but I like to use red split lentils because they’re the ones I often cook with and have on hand. Plus they cook very quickly - which is never a bad thing. 

Ingredients (serves 4)
200g red split lentils
200g basmati rice
2 medium onions, finely sliced
80ml oil
2 whole green chillies
1 stick cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
½ tsp chilli powder
¼ paprika
1.5 tsp salt

Rinse lentils and place in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Rinse and drain the rise and set aside.

In a separate pan heat the oil on medium high heat and add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and bayleaf. Once you hear the cumin seeds make a popping sounds – about 30 seconds add the onions and salt.

Cook the onions for 12-15 minutes or until they turn golden brown and crisp up. Turn the heat to low and using a slotted spoon remove half of the fried onions to a dish and reserve for later.

Turn the heat to medium and stir in the ground spices and cook for about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir gently to toast the rice slightly. This will take 2-3 minutes.

Cover the rice with boiling water which comes up an inch above the rice and bring to the boil.Add the green chillies and simmer on medium heat for 7-8 minutes and stir once. Reduce the heat to very low.

Layer on the reserved caramelised onions and lentils on top of the rice and cover.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until you see steam rising from the pan steadily. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Taste the rice for seasoning.

When you are ready to eat, very gently mix the rice, onions and lentils and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and if desired a sprinkle of sumac.

Inspired by Aarti Sequeira

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