Ah, the poor man’s dish mujaddara. It is commonly called that because of mujaddara is packed full of protein and probably the cheapest dish to make. All you need is an onion, rice, lentils, and some olive oil; so simple, yet so comforting. This is my go-to dish when I haven’t bought any groceries, because I always have these items in my pantry. I must admit it took me quite a few tries to make this right. The lentils were always too hard, or they turned to mush. I realized that soaking the lentils in hot water for a 10-15 minutes before cooking them with the rice makes a huge difference. Actually, soaking the lentils makes perfect mujaddara every time. Also, a really good quality olive oil transforms this dish. Every house makes mujaddara differently, so you will find many different variations of the recipe: proportions of rice to lentil, tomato paste put in with the rice and lentils, or even red chili flakes for an extra kick. But one thing is for certain – don’t skimp on the onions. You can never have too many, and the slow roasted flavor with a good quality olive oil makes all the difference. Feel free to experiment and make a mujaddara dish that your family will love.
Mujaddara (Rice & Brown Lentils)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 to 2 large yellow onion, sliced
1 cup brown lentils
½ cup long grain rice
½ tsp cumin powder
(1) Rinse lentils and pick out any stones. Place lentils in a bowl. Boil enough water to just cover the lentils. Let sit until all of the water is absorbed (approx. 10 minutes)
(2) In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add sliced onions. Once they begin to turn translucent, reduce the heat. Cook low and slow for about 15-20 minutes.
(3) In a pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add rice and lentils. Add cumin powder and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
(4) Add 1 ½ cups of water (just enough to cover the rice and lentils. Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce heat to low.
(5) Check after 20 minutes. Most of the water should have evaporated. If the rice or lentils are still crunchy, then add ¼ cup of water, and cook a little longer. (You can repeat this step as many times as you need until the rice/lentil mixture is cooked).
(6) Place the rice/lentil mixture in your serving dish, and top with the fried onions. You can add another dash of salt, if you like.
(7) You can serve the dish warm, room temperature, or even cold. Enjoy!