Are you familiar with mujadara? It’s a beautiful dish layered with lentils and rice at the bottom, followed by caramelized onions. It is served in Middle Eastern restaurants, and this recipe tastes just like it.
Mujadara is served across the Middle East in various forms and goes by differing names, depending on where you are. It has many spelling variations: mujadarra, mujadarah, majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra. Mujadara is a simple vegetarian meal that would leave people with a lasting impression on your cooking. It is also special diet friendly, since it’s dairy and gluten free and could make a great dish for festive cooking too!
The Truth behind Authentic Mujadara
The secret to an authentic mujadara recipe is in the onions! This dish starts and ends with onions. First, deeply caramelized chopped onions are cooked with the rice and lentils, imparting flavour and the deep, golden hue this dish is known for. And to finish your mujadara, you’ll top the cooked rice and lentils with thinly sliced, crispy onion ring! Comforting and bold in the best way.
What lentils to use for Mujadara?
Black lentils would be best as they cook quickly and have an earthy flavour. They have a good texture that does not lose shape when cooked with rice. Coarse bulgur is also another option for mujadara. If you want to use it instead, the cooking process is similar. Just give the grains a good rinse and allow them to soak for a few minutes before cooking until the bulgur is somewhat tender.
How to cook Mujadara
- Par-cook the lentils. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of rinsed black lentils with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the lentils are par-boiled (10 minutes). Remove from the heat, drain the lentils and set them aside.
- Caramelize the chopped onions. In a large, deep sauté pan with a lid, heat about ¼ cup of extra virgin oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and a dash of kosher salt and cook until the onions are caramelized and deeply golden brown. This will give the rice a comforting flavour and a beautiful golden brown hue.
- Cook the lentils and rice. Carefully pour the remaining 2 cups of water in the large pan with the caramelized onions. Stir the rice and par-cooked lentils into the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Add a dash of kosher salt, black pepper, and about ½ to 1 teaspoon cumin. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are both cooked through (about 20 minutes).
- Make the crispy onion rings. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to a large pan and cook over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. To test the oil, add one thinly sliced onion ring and see if the oil vigorously bubbles, if it does, the oil is ready. Add the remaining onion slices and cook over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until the onions are crispy and deeply coloured. If you need to, do this step in batches to make sure your onion rings are properly cooked.
- Let the Mujadara rest then serve. When the rice and lentils are fully cooked, let them sit for about 10 minutes undisturbed, then garnish with parsley and serve with a bit of the crispy onion rings on top
Mujadara is a dish that is healthy as well as tasty. It is packed to the brim with nutrients such as protein, vitamin B, fiber, and iron. It is a well balanced meal that will provide your body with more than enough nutrients.
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