Mujaddara. Lentil Alimental

I am often aghast when my mother tells me about her cure for general lethargy. She cooks up a small rump steak, the ‘point’ of the rump, she insists, along with two eggs for breakfast! Part of my awe is her amazing appetite for meat at this early hour of the day. Even when I used to eat meat, now more than 40 years ago, I doubt I could have stomached this meal first thing in the morning. My mother lived through an era without internet ‘authorities’ proselytizing about food, although she is aware of the modern-day TV cranks, those we love or love to loathe, who promote a high protein, no carb diet to the gullible. Mother has always eaten modestly and sensibly, cooking all her meals from scratch until very recently and included a daily quota of vegetables, fruits and carbs in her diet. But she NEVER cooked lentils.

When I’m feeling run down and tired, my body growls for lentils. These humble little pulses cure me instantly, especially when combined with rice or grain. Food associated with poverty to some, or hippy era food to others, lentils come into their own when treated well and cooked in interesting ways. Red and yellow lentils in Indian dhal, or whole black lentils combined with red kidney beans in a soothing Dhal Makhani, red lentils and a scoop of bulgur wheat in Turkish bride soup, brown lentils for burgers, puy lentils in shepherds’ pie, lentil and vegetable soups finished with a dash of lemon juice, lentil and zucchini fritters, Indian Kitchari and the addictive Lebanese dish, Mujaddara, the list goes on and on.

Last week’s version of Mujaddara, with dukkah eggs

In the last two months, I’ve made Mujaddara three times, trying to streamline the method. The SBS version, hosted by Maeve O’Meara, is quite good, the Diane Henry version tends to stick to the pot, whereas the more straight forward version I like comes from Abla Amad of Abla’s Lebanese Restaurant, Carlton, Melbourne. I love the way Mujadarra goes well with easily prepared side dishes: labne, radishes, any pickled vegetable, salads of tomato, cucumber and mint, and perhaps some Lebanese pita bread. Leftover Mujaddara can be combined with grated zucchini and a little binding egg for fritters, or stuffed into silverbeet (chard) leaves for dolmades. Or, simply microwaved for breakfast, and served with a big dollop of yoghurt. My kind of pick me up.

Double pick me up. Lentil and rice, with eggs, and sides.

The following recipe is from Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen. I have slightly modified a couple of small details along the way.

Lentils and Rice ( Mjadra’at addis)

  • 300 grams ( 1 ½ cups) brown lentils, washed and drained. ( I used Australian grown Puy lentils)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 150 ml EV olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved and finely sliced
  • 200 g ( 1 cup) long grain rice, washed, soaked then drained

Method

Place the lentils in a saucepan and 750 ml ( 3 cups) of water. Cover and bring to the boil over high heat. Add another 250 ml ( 1 cup) of cold water ( this prevents the lentils from splitting) and boil for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat and cook the onion for 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring often to prevent the onions from going too dark. Set aside one quarter of the onion, and add the remainder, together with its oil, to the brown lentils. Stir in the rice, then add another small cup of water ( about 150ml if using puy lentils) and cook, covered, over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. I recommend using a simmer mat for this final step.

Spoon the mixture into a shallow serving bowl and sprinkle with reserved onion. Add any left over onion cooking oil. Serve with yoghurt, Lebanese salad, and other found fridge meze.

Breakfast or lunch pick me up
Leftover Mujaddara, grated zucchini fritters on a bed of peperonata

What, dear reader, is your favourite ‘pick me up’ food? Can you down a steak for breakfast? Do lentils hold any odd connotations for you?

 

37 thoughts on “Mujaddara. Lentil Alimental”

  1. I just want to eat your images let alone taste them. However, it’s 40o C here in the wet tropics, unprecedented weather so any cooking is off the agenda. But we have, dolmathes, humus, yoghurt, cuces and pita bread. What a Mediterranean treat. The Piont Grigio is chilling. Thanks for making our dinner a reality.
    Cheers
    Peter FNQ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have made me smile – again 🙂 ! I first enjoyed mujadarra, always at ‘room’ temperature sailing on Sydney Harbour Sunday after brilliant Sunday. prepared by a dear Aussie gf married to a Lebanese businessman . . . and she took me home and taught me virtually the same method you have just written down for us. That was a few decades back and it is still on my ‘must do now!’ list. So simple! So fabulous !! But I shall shock you: I may not cook a steak for breakfast as I am not a morning person – BUT, yesterday’s meatloaf or cold curry or meat from that oomphy spicy lamb shank left over . . . on black or rye bread – best breakfast in the world !!! (And don’t talk about TV gurus promoting paleo ‘diets’ – have oft felt like throwing something at the TV to catch one handsome mug I wish I could yell at . . . ) !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aha, Eha, I am sure my mother would love to join you for breakfast, especially if you’re having lamb shank, one of her other favourites. yes, that handsome mug is now promoting his own special water, And is anti sunscreen too. Having just had a cancer chopped out of my neck, I wonder how he gets away with that one. But then, I don’t watch him, or any commercial TV now- just know all this crap from social media.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Off topic: Well, the Government stopped his paleo book about children’s nutrition going into print . . . and he loves his pasta and breads and fried rice on MKR . . . . ‘money makes the world go round . . . 🙂 !

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great food photos, as always. Frying the left overs into balls is a nice idea. As far as I’m concerned, lentils make the world go round. When we travel for a couple of weeks outside of India, my wife begins to crave a simple meal of dal and rice. For me a khichdi is comfort food, my general pick-me-up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can’t eat many lentils a couple of spoonsful are my limit but that doesn’t stop me craving them. My first choice pick-me-up food is homemade chicken broth, closely followed by steamed rice, poached egg, cucumber and yoghurt which is also my favourite breakfast. Thanks for reminding me about Abla’s, what a treat it was to eat there…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Good article about mum’s eating while living to an old age. Just goes to show you shouldn’t listen too much to the foodie gurus. They are out there to make money. I must admit I never eat lentils either but this recipe sounds delicious. I’m going to have a go at it. With dolmades – what is the wrapping normally made of?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dolmades are usually made with a wrapping of vine leaves and stuffed with a mixture of rice, currants, herbs and pine nuts. They are then slowly cooked in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and water.
      Yes, Mum loves meat and has good genes.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. There are 2 approaches to vine leaves. Use your own if you grow grapes. Pick the leaves and blanch them. Most people use the vine leaves preserved in jars. These need a little soaking before use to remove some of the salt. Making little dolmades is tedious but well worth it as they last well in the fridge and make a nice addition to a middle eastern platter of meze.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Lentils have so many ways to be delicious! I need to stock up on more different kinds of them, and think about using them in more types of foods!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lentils have been one of your wonderful inspirations we now include on our menu… homemade baked beans, dahl, lentils added to soups & stews but this one with rice probably won’t make the cut unless I decide to make and eat it myself, or maybe I could modify it and sub pearl barley which the G.O. eats. Mostly when I’m catering for myself the food is vego, eggs, cheese, fish, black beans, often leftovers… Pick me up food depends on how I’m feeling… backyard eggs, avocado, green leafy plants & pesto are my go to’s. I crave mushrooms if lacking Vit B, tabouli/potassium, homemade yoghurt/gut. From time to time I just have to have a small piece of really good beef with spinach or broccolini to nourish my omnivore-self.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s amazing how much our bodies rell us what we need. Does the GO eat small pasta? This dish is quite good with a bit of orzo pasta thrown in at the end too. Or bulgur wheat. Barley requires longer separate cooking and would make the mujaddara too heavy.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m not sure about my favourite pick me up, but I love lentils, and we just had mujaddara for dinner, with a crispy fried egg on top 🙂 My favourite lentil dish is one from my hippie childhood – a macrobiotic dish I think, of lentils cooked with miso.

    Liked by 2 people

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