Oh, mujaddara, how I love thee. Who would ever imagine lentils and rice to be so good? But, they are. This is one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes (and it should be one of yours, too). Mujaddara consists of onions that have been caramelized and lentils and rice that have cooked together with the caramelized onions. It can be served as a vegetarian main dish or as a side. Traditionally, it’s only flavored with salt and pepper, but I think cumin and bay complement the ingredients so well, so that’s how I make mine.
I cook the rice and lentils together (some cook the lentils beforehand and mix at the end) because it’s easier and I feel like the flavors meld better. However, the only issue with this is that the amount of liquid you need is not an exact science, so you may or may not need to add a little more as you go. Don’t worry, it’s a very forgiving dish. Certainly not the most beautiful dish, but very forgiving. And delicious.
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1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half and then into slices
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup brown rice
2.5 cups water or broth (or a combo)*
Heat a deep saute pan or medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil. Once hot, add the onions. Cook for two or three minutes over medium heat and then reduce to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are a dark golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
Stir in the cumin, bay leaf, lentils and brown rice and saute for a minute before adding the liquid. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer until the rice and lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
*Add more liquid as you are cooking the mujaddara, if necessary.