A mujaddara is primarily made with lentils and a starch (usually rice) and flavored with caramelized onions. It is a dish that is very ancient (mentioned in the Old Testament). In any case, it is healthy, rustic, easy to make and easy on the wallet.
In the beautiful village of Hammana (Mount Lebanon range), residents are rightfully proud of their cherries (huge, extra-sweet); they also make mujaddara with local beans instead of lentils and it is just as good and good-for-you as the classic one with lentils. The recipe was published yesterday in the French-language daily L’Orient-le-Jour and I decided to make it right away (slightly adapted). Mrs Marie Choueiri who gave the recipe said that it was taught to her by her mother-in-law when she got married as an entrance visa into the community.
INGREDIENTS: 8 servings
- 1 pound of beans (Pinto or Northern White beans)
- 3 tbsp of rice (medium-grain is best or any starchy rice like arborio or sushi)
- 4 large onions
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- spices: salt, 1 tbsp; 1 tsp of black pepper;1 tsp of cinnamon; 1/2 tsp of cumin
- 1 tbsp of hot tomato sauce (recipe calls for only 1 tsp)
- 1 tbsp of grape molasses or dark honey (my add)
- Soak the beans in a pot filled with lukewarm water the night before. The next day, empty the water, place the pot over the stove and add fresh tap water to fill the pot and cover the beans. Cook the beans, simmering gently, for about one hour, until they “open up” and are tender. Towards the end of cooking time, add 1/4 cup of rice to the pot. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin and the spiced tomato sauce.
- Simmer, stirring from time to time to make sure the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot; meanwhile, chop the onions; heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large skillet and brown the onions in the oil. When the onions are nicely browned, add them to the pot of beans and stir the pot for 15 minutes or so until the moujaddara thickens.
- Transfer to a platter, let it cool and serve at room temperature with a salad of fresh veggies.