Posted on January 14 2016
Recipes From Around The World: The Lebanese Mujaddara By Kristi Veliaj
Dear Pretty (Yummy) Birds,
If you are a BIG ethnic food lover, these food recipes that we will be sharing with you are what you need to replicate, effortlessly at home, your favorite dishes from around the world. This week I got really excited about Lebanese cuisine and couldn’t stop myself from researching the yummiest dish of them all. After an extensive research and my increased salivation, I came to the conclusion that Lebanese cuisine is not only exquisite but it is also wide and colorful. Mujaddara, is a comfort food of Levantine origin, in fact, most of middle eastern people, consider it as an integral part of their food culture. This lentil based dish, with wholegrain rice, most of the time topped with fried onions, was considered the highlight of a poor man’s diet. I am a fan of poor cuisine, where flavors are kept simply natural. I hope you will enjoy this gourmande recipe and remember to share your Lebanese experience with us!
1 Cup brown or green lentils
1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 Teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
3 Medium red onions, thinly sliced
3/4 Cup basmati rice
1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (1-inch) Cinnamon stick
2 Tablespoons pine nuts, optional
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
Throw the lentils into a saucepan. Fill with enough cold water to cover the lentils by about an inch. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
As the lentils are cooking, grab a large skillet. Pop it over a medium-high heat and add the oil. Allow the oil to warm, then drop in the cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns, cook shaking the pan once in a while until the cumin seeds darken a touch. Add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn caramel brown. Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the bottom of the pan.
Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove about half of the onions; these are for garnish later. Sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and then add the cinnamon stick. Add the rice and cook, stirring often (but gently so you don’t break the rice!) until some rice grains start to brown. Quickly, add the cooked lentils, 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. The water should be completely evaporated and rice should be tender. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts, if using, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, shaking often, about 5 minutes. Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, if using, and a little squeeze of lemon juice and some dollops of Greek yogurt.
Recipe courtesy of Aarti Sequeira via Foodnetwork.com
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