Monday, June 21, 2010


Mujadarra [photo]

I have often sung the praises of the rich and flavourful cuisine of the Middle-East and so it should come as no surprise that I bring you yet another recipe from the region, this time from Lebanon. (Maybe I should change the blog's name to The Middle-Eastern Pot?)

Mujadarra is a firm favourite not only in Lebanon, but also among many Jewish communities, where it is referred to as Esau's favourite referencing the famous story of how Esau sold his birthright for a pot of lentils. Mujadarra has also made an appearance in contempary literature, playing a starring role in Ameen Rihani's novel The Book of Khalid.*

I have always been both foodie and self-confessed bookworm and I feel a strange tingle of delight when I stumble across instances of these two areas overlapping. As in the first case where food arguably forms part of one of the most-oft repeated tales of all time. Ditto for Ameen's book featuring the very same dish. 

Mujadarra [photo]

You can imagine my delight then when I became aware of a blogging event that celebrates this partnership of good food and good books. Starting this month, I will be diving into Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl in preparation for my very first challenge of This Book Makes Me Cook. The basic premise is that all the participants read a specific foodie novel which will then serve as inspiration for a recipe to blog about. If you are a fellow book & food nerd, I am sure you will need no convincing to dive in with me.

Coming back to the dish that launched a thousand novels (almost), Mujadarra happens to also be perfect for Meat-Free Mondays. Not only that, but it is super versatile to boot, as you can served it both as main or side-dish, hot or cold. Some might say Esau was crazy, but I'm telling you, the man was onto a very good thing when he made that life-changing trade.

*source: Wikipedia

Mujadarra [photo]

Serves 4 (as main or 6-8 as side)

2 tbsp olive oil
4 large red (or a mix of red & white) onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed
2 tsp mustard seeds, crushed
1 tbsp curry powder (optional)
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup brown rice
3 1/2 cups water 
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper 
1/2 tbsp lemon juice 
a handful fresh coriander, chopped 
hummus, to serve (optional, but highly recommended) 

1. Heat half of the oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized frying pan. Add one onion and fry for a few minutes or until softened.
2. Transfer onion to a pot, adding garlic and spices and fry for a few seconds or until fragrant. Add lentils and rice, stirring to coat with the oil and spices, then add water, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for about 30 - 40 minutes or until cooked through. Add lemon juice, stir through, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remainder of the oil in the frying pan yo used previously, then add remainder of onions with a touch of salt and allow to caramelise over low-medium heat. This will take roughly 30 minutes as well.

Spoon rice and lentil mixture into serving bowls, top with caramelised onions, hummus (if using) and fresh coriander. Serve immediately.

Nutritional info (per main dish serving): Calories 248.7, Total fat 8.7 g, Saturated fat 1.1 g, Polyunsaturated fat 1.1 g, Monounsaturated fat 5.9 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 592.5 mg, Potassium 525.5 mg, Total carbohydrate 36.6 g, Dietary fiber 8.1 g, Sugars 0.2 g, Protein 8.3 g

Good source of: Manganese 56.1 %, Folate 30.5 %, Iron 24.6 %, Phosphorus 20.6 %


Hila on June 21, 2010 8:58 am said...

Interesting :) In hebrew its pronounced Majadra. I make mine with turmeric, cumin and sweet paprika :)
When I was in Israel it was one of the favourite dinner dishes that I made for the commune I stayed in, I tended to make it as a side dish with chicken schnitzel and it was good enough for the vegetarians there to just eat a bowl of that alone so no need to make anything extra for them.

A great variation on the theme that we do is also to use pasta rice instead of rice. For some reason, this combination goes very well with a nice piece of fish

Marisa on June 21, 2010 9:40 am said...

LadyRaven - Thanks for sharing some of your favourite ways to eat Mujadarra - will definitely be trying this with the pasta rice as well.

Zabwan on June 21, 2010 12:28 pm said...

this looks divine! love lentils, so will definitely give it a try xxx

Joanne on June 21, 2010 1:51 pm said...

Between the lentils, caramelized onions and awesome Middle Eastern flavors. I might sell my birthright for this dish. I think Esau was totally onto something.

polkadotcupcake on June 21, 2010 2:45 pm said...

I love the idea of cooking with reference to a book! I'm a total bookworm, and find myself salivating for dishes cooked in the books I read, what a brilliant idea!
And this dish looks just divine, I love caramelised onions!

my little expat kitchen on June 21, 2010 3:15 pm said...

This is such a interesting recipe. Love the combination of flavors and I'll definitely give this a try!

Trish on June 22, 2010 4:59 am said...

Oh wow...this is a super recipe! I simply must try this one!

Anonymous said...

I keep seeing recipes for this stuff, it calls out to me.
Beautiful pics!

~Kurious Kitteh

Adele @ WillworkforBiltong on June 23, 2010 3:59 am said...

It's great that you also found This Book Makes Me Cook! I loved Garlic and Sapphires, looking forward to see what you thought of it.

Marisa on June 23, 2010 6:53 am said...

Zabwan - If you love lentils, you'll definitely love this.

Joanne - Esau was a visionary it would seem. Or maybe the world's first foodie?

Polkadotcupcake - So looking forward to whipping something up inspired by a novel!

Magda - It's such a simple combination of flavours but it comes together beautifully.

Trish - Thanks! Hope you enjoy it.

Kurious Kitteh - Go, try it out! You won't regret it, I promise. (PS - love the name)

Adele - I actually found the event through your blogpost about Julie & Julia! :-) Almost finished with Garlic & Sapphires, but finding it hard to choose something to cook.

Cherine on June 24, 2010 1:34 pm said...

I love your blog, happy to find lebanese recipes too :)

Jeanne @ CookSister! on June 28, 2010 2:08 pm said...

I am always on the lookout for lentil recipes - I love them but hubby gets bored if I don't find new ways to make them!! I LOVE the flavours in this dish - definitely going into my bookmarks folder.

Anonymous said...

oh gosh we used to have this dish every friday when growing up, i never liked it as a youngster but now love it when my mom makes it. she doesnt use curry and uses white rice instead of brown. we also serve it with tahini instead of hummous. If you are not vegan it is a great accompaniment to fish made in the oven with tahini and also with lebanse lubneh. and great served with a tomato and onion salad with vinegar and oil. very leb. great post thanks

Marisa on July 10, 2010 5:59 pm said...

Cherine - Thanks, it's nice to have you here!

Jeanne - Think hubby will like this one; it's very versatile too, think you'd be able to serve this with almost anything.

Souldiaries - Thanks for the great tips; will definitely try with tahini and fish in future.

Amanda on August 24, 2010 5:54 pm said...

living in zanzibar, spice island! tried this recipe for iftar and we absolutely loved it! yum! the caramelized onions are divine, divine. i added a dollop of yogurt with chopped mint and garlic, with a side salad (chopped tomatoes, coriander, lettuce, cucumber, and onion, dashed with cumin, salt, and lime (can't find lemons here). thanks for posting this, lentils here are abundant and was happy to switch it up from the classic lentil/carrot soup story. asante sana!

Marisa on August 25, 2010 7:52 am said...

Amanda - Wow, so jealous of your location! Would love to visit Zanzibar one day. Glad the recipe worked out so well for you. Can imagine the herby yoghurt would've tasted very good with the mujadarra.

Sohan D'souza on October 16, 2011 6:22 pm said...

I made it with short-grain white rice. Turned out lovely. Next time, I will try brown rice.

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