As a young mother, I had a mission: my kids were going to like Lebanese food. No room in my pantry for hamburger helpers and the like.
Here is how I introduced mujaddara, our Lebanese lentil and rice porridge.
” Chocolate pudding kids!”
(It worked); they loved it. My son learned to make it when he moved out.
Mujaddara was always the quintessential Lebanese country dish. It was what people ate during periods of fasting as well. Its origin can be found in the Old Testament, according to some, as it was mentioned in the Genesis as the dish that Jacob gave up his inheritance rights for.
Traditionally mujaddara is cooked with rice or bulgur and flavored with lots of caramelized onions.
Today, I wanted to use roasted green wheat, AKA freekeh.
Here is my prediction: Freekeh is going to be the next quinoa.
It will one day be produced in the US.
For the time being, freekeh can easily be found in any Middle-Eastern store or online.
To read on the nutritional benefits of freekeh, click here. (check out its fiber and protein content!)
INGREDIENTS: Quantity will feed 12 people
- 2 cups of brown lentils (360 g)
- 4 cups of chopped onions
- 1 cup of roasted green wheat or freekeh (can easily substitute another cereal of your choice, rice or coarse bulgur)
- seasonings: salt, pepper, a dash of allspice, a dash of cumin.
- 1/4 cup (3 tablespoons) of date molasses (optional)
- olive oil, as needed
- chicken stock (optional)
Fresh Pomegranate salsa:
- 2 cups of pomegranate seeds
- 1 red onion, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of fresh pomegranate juice
- a few chopped cilantro leaves (or other herb)
- 3 small cucumbers, diced
- Pour the lentils in a large pot and add water to cover by about one inch (8 cups of water should suffice). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
- In the meantime, soak the freekeh in water, inspecting the grains to make sure no stones have been forgotten in there. Chop the onions in the food processor by pulsing, and transfer them to a skillet in which you will pour about 1/2 cup of olive oil.
- Fry the onions for 45 minutes on low heat, until they are caramelized. Reserve half of the onions for garnish, and add to the other half the date molasses, stirring to mix it well throughout. Add the onions to the pot with the lentils, add salt, pepper, cumin and allspice and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the freekeh and stir the pot, then cover and let the mixture simmer gently, adding one or two cups of chicken broth or water to the pot. This will provide enough liquid for the freekeh to cook in. If there was already enough liquid in the pot, disregard this step. (Keep in mind the freekeh needs 2 cups of liquid).
- Check after 15 minutes to see if the freekeh is soft to the bite; taste and adjust seasonings.
- Pour into a serving dish, garnish with the caramelized onions on top and the pomegranate salsa all around or in a bowl. Eat at room temperature or warm.
NOTE: The date molasses adds some sweetness to the dish; it can easily be skipped, as the caramelized onions will do the job quite well.
For a traditional mujaddara with rice, click here.
For a mujaddara with bulgur, click here.