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Mujaddara (Rice & lentils)

by Ben on August 1st, 2011

A great way to use up caramelized onions. If you already have the caramelized onions, the rest of this comes together super quickly. Paired well with the sauteed beets from Five Spices, Fifty Dishes and Ben’s magic green beans (caramelized garlic + green beans = yum).

SERVES 4

For the Mujaddara:

If you don’t have caramelized onions already:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons olive oil and
  • 6 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), halved and thinly sliced

For Spiced Yogurt (can substitute your favorite raita) :

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or regular – whatever you have)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika or 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • smidge of salt

If not using a rice cooker, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Kick off the rice in a rice cooker (or, if you want to be old school, you can hold off on the rice until the lentils are done).
  2. Put lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lentils until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes.
  3. When done, drain lentils and set aside.
  4. If not using a rice cooker, add rice to the now-empty lentil pot and and add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot, set over medium heat, and bring to a boil. When water begins to boil, cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 17 minutes (the tried-and-true Amanda Hesser method!) until perfectly cooked. Remove from oven, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
  5. While rice cooks, set a wide, deep saute pan over medium-low heat and add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has mostly melted, add onions and toss to incorporate with butter and oil.
  6. After 5 minutes, onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes more, until onions are very soft and browned. Add water by the tablespoon if pan gets too dry or if onions start to stick. When onions are well browned, add last tablespoon of olive oil and raise heat to high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions has charred and crisped; try not to stir too much, or onions won’t crisp up.
  7. Combine rice, lentils, and most of the onions in large serving bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes, to marry the flavors together. (Truth be told, this dish improves with age.) Taste, and add more onions if desired. Meanwhile, make the yogurt: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. (Yes, it’s really that simple.)
  8. If mujaddara has cooled significantly, reheat in a low oven or even in the microwave for a couple minutes. To serve, plate a big scoop of mujaddara and top with a dollop of raita and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

We skipped on the yogurt from the original recipe and made fried okra raita.

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