M'jaddara is a comforting Middle Eastern rice (or bulgur) and lentils dish. It doesn't sound like the most exciting dish. Right? WRONG! This dish is wonderful. The flavors are amazing. This vegetarian dish is topped with sautéed onions. Actually, I wouldn't call it sautéing. The onions are usually borderline burned, and they have to be so, so crispy!
There's something about the combination of rice and lentils with the onions that sends your tastebuds through the roof. Such a simple dish with so much flavor.
The recipe I'm sharing with you is a Palestinian recipe. It's very different than kushary, the Egyptian version of this rice and lentil dish. M'jaddara has fewer ingredients than kushary and doesn't have pasta or a tomato sauce.
My teta (grandma) loves making both bulgur and rice m'jaddara on the same day. It's a tradition that can't be broken. But that's fine because she has a big family to feed. For me, we're a small family, so making both kinds of m'jaddara on the same night is too much food!
Teta always shares her tips with me. Obviously, my food is nothing close to how amazing her food is, but I try. She gave me one tip that I am eternally grateful for. The oil she uses to sautée the onions in doesn't go to waste. She adds it to the rice and lentils mix. You have no idea how much of a difference this small step makes in the taste of the m'jaddara. The flavor from the onion flavored oil intensifies the taste.
Growing up, I constantly heard my family saying "m'jaddara m'ddara" which translates to m'jaddara is to be appreciated. I agree with this saying 100%! Four main ingredients = intense flavors!
Make this for meatless Monday! Or for a light weekend lunch. Serve it with my tomato and cucumber salad and a side of plain yogurt.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
2/3 cup brown lentils
4 cups water, for the lentils
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice (soaked in hot water for 20 minutes)
2 1/2 cups water, to cook rice in
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 medium white onions, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1) For the lentils: In a small pot, combine the water and brown lentils. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
2) In a medium pan, add both oils and heat on medium. Add the sliced onion. Continue to stir every minute or so. Cook until the onions are crispy and dark brown. Remove the onions from the pan and place on a plate. Save the remaining oil in the pan.
3) For the rice: In a medium pot, combine the water, vegetable oil, salt, cumin, cooked lentils, and reserved oil from the onions. Let the mix come to a boil.
4) Add the rice to the pot and stir. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium low heat, until the rice has absorbed all the water.
5) Once fully cooked, turn the heat off and leave the rice covered in the pot for 10-15 minutes. The heat in the pot will continue to cook the rice.
6) Uncover and fluff with a fork.
7) Transfer on to a serving plate and top with the sautéed onions.