04 November 2012

Maggie's Mujaddara

One of the most wonderful thing about veg*n food is that it forces you to go beyond your own culture's ideas about how food is prepared, spices/foods that should and should not be combined, what makes a meal, and many other food-related boundary expansions. Consequently, most veg*ns eat a diet influenced by all areas of the globe. This week alone, Shana and I have food with influences from the Middle East, Italy, Mexico, Asia, and America. Not bad for one week (especially considering we have two meals as of yet unplanned)!

Mujaddara, the dish we had for dinner tonight, is a combination of lentils, rice, and onions (well, and spices). The combination of lentils and rice is a staple dish in many parts of the Middle East, although the flavor profiles are variable. Aside from being delicious, this dish is cheap, easy, and filling. Oh, and it freezes well! This version also makes a ton (we had it for dinner, then made four servings of leftovers).

Before I dive into the recipe, I have three warnings. First, this dish is not a visually appealing dish (it's not bad, just not beautiful), but the taste makes up for it! Second, my technique for cooking this is not traditional (but it's easy!). Third, in this dish, I generally eye-ball the amounts for spices. I tried to guesstimate while making it tonight, but who knows...

Maggie's Mujaddara
1/2 lb. (8 oz. by weight) dry brown lentils
4 c. water
1 c. uncooked basmati rice
2 c. water
3 large sweet onions, chopped into 1/4 thick wedges
1/2 c. olive oil
pepper, cumin, curry, cinnamon, and veggie broth to taste
salt to taste

1. In a large skillet, start cooking onions in olive oil over medium heat. Add a good sprinkling of salt. You want them to caramelize and get nice and brown, which will take the whole time that everything else is cooking.
2. In a large stockpot, boil lentils and spices in 4 c. water, uncovered.
3. In a rice cooker, cook the rice according to package directions.
4. When rice is done and there is just a tiny amount of liquid left in the lentils, combine rice and lentils in stockpot.
5. Scoop into bowls and then top with caramelized onions and a bit of the olive oil.

Helpful Hints
  • As I mentioned, I don't usually pay attention to how much of each spice I put in this recipe. However, here's my guesses from tonight:
    • In the lentils: 1/8 tsp. cinnamon (a good dash or two), 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1/4 tsp. curry, 1/2 tsp. cumin, enough Better than Bullion for 2 c. of water
    • In the rice: no cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 1/8 tsp. curry, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. bullion. 
  • Generally, brown and green lentils can be used interchangeably, so go with what you can find. 
  • I use basmati rice, but brown would do as well (or really any long-grain rice). Do be aware that you may have to adjust the amount of water you use based on which rice you use. Brown rice also takes longer, so you will want to start it first or second (rather than 3rd). 
  • This is a gluten- and soy-free dinner (as long as your veggie broth is free of both allergens). 
  • I noted above how much this makes, so feel free to cut it in half. But also note that this freezes like a dream!
The post "Maggie's Mujaddara" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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