Lentil and Bulgur porridge (Mujaddara Hamra)

October 2, 2009  • 

 

I had heard about this dish before; friends would say ” Oh, it is my favorite mujaddara” . I knew it was a specialty from the south of Lebanon and I knew it was made with burgul instead of the rice we used at our home. But I had never tried it, let alone made it.  What spurred me on was Dana, a reader of this blog, who so graciously sent me her mom’s recipe, saying that it was definitely her favorite version of mujaddara. And today, I can say that it is mine too! My daughter noticed that the flavor is enhanced and the mujaddara is deliciously creamy and  infused with the wonderful taste of caramelized onions.

The lentils are not pureed, they stay whole, but the bulgur and onions meld into a creamy and scrumptious porridge.  What is critical in this dish, which is comprised of only 3 ingredients, bulgur, onions, lentils, is the browning of the onions, which requires some time and care. Also the lentils should be the brown, smaller ones.


Lentils are a fantastic food, full of iron and fiber and a host of other nutrients. And it is cheap!

I consulted Marlene Mattar’s book Ma’edat Marlene for the recipe and instructions.

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INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield 4 servings

  • 1 cup of brown lentils
  • 1/3 cup of coarse burghul ( if unable to find, use fine burghul)
  • 2 large onions ( about 350g)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, black pepper, a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick and a few sprigs of parsley

METHOD:

  1. Wash and clean the lentils, watching for loose pieces of stone.
  2. Place the lentils in a pot, cover with about 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Take off the scum from the surface and add to the broth a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick and a few sprigs of parsley.
  4. Simmer on medium heat for about 20 -30 minutes until the lentils are cooked but still firm.
  5. Remove the lentils from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Keep the broth in the pot and turn the heat off. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf (if using)
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the chopped onions. Cover the skillet and cook the onions on low heat until translucent.
  7. Uncover the skillet, turn the heat to very low (if necessary place a heat diffuser under the skillet) and cook the onions until they turn brown, stirring from time to time. It will take about 45 minutes.
  8. Drop the onions and oil in the pot with the lentil broth. Simmer the broth and onions for 15 minutes.
  9. Cool the broth and then liquidize in a blender until the onions are pureed with the broth.
  10. Return the broth to the pot and add the lentils back, the burghul and the salt and pepper.  Simmer the mixture until the burghul is completely cooked, adding a bit of water if necessary to ensure the burghul is well cooked and creamy.
  11. Turn the heat off and keep the lentils in the pot for about 15 minutes. The mixture should be moist and creamy. Transfer to a serving dish. Eat warm or at room temperature with a salad of tomatoes and onions or a cabbage salad or (my favorite) some pico de gallo.

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NOTE:

You can brown some extra onions to use as a garnish.

The following is a saying meaning that lentils give strength and energy. masaameer al-ka’bah. From Marlene Mattar مايده مارلين

مسامير الكعبه

Comments

13 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. kano says:

    Hi Jumana

    I noticed that your Mujadara in both posts is cooked to a porridge consistency while we cook ours in Syria much drier. Check how I cook it http://www.flickr.com/photos/syrianfoodie/3541063895/

    Is this the way it is cooked in Lebanon in general or is it how you like it?

    • Joumana says:

      Hi Kano
      I checked all my references and indeed we do the mujaddara like that, unless it is the dry one which has a much greater quantity of rice (some people put double the ratio of rice to lentils) and like Dana mentions it is called mudardara in Lebanon. The mujaddara is smooth like pudding and the lentils used to be pureed in the food mill.

  2. Dana says:

    Hi Joumana,

    Your mjadarra looks great. I like the addition of the bay leaf and cinnamon stick to the cooking broth; I’ll try it this way next time.

    @Kano, in Southern Lebanon, we make three types of mjadarra: mjadarra hamra (posted here), mjadarra makhboosa (porridge like mjadarra posted somewhere else on the blog), and mjadarra mdardara (the one where the lentils and rice stay intact as in your photo). There is also a fourth type of mjadarra that I havent tried yet. It is called mjadarra safra and I am guessing it is made with the orange lentils.

    Cheers,
    Dana

    • Joumana says:

      Thanks Dana! I love to get all this additional info. At home we called it mujaddara msafayyeh (pureed). In any case, I did try the mujaddara safra a few months ago and posted about it. I like it but my all-time fav is this latest one with burghul.

  3. kano says:

    @Joumana @Dana
    Thank you for the info.
    I Syria we don’t do this porridge like version at all (at least not in Damascus), and Mujadara is always Burgul. If we cook with rice we call Mujadara bi Rizz.

    I should try this recipe. I especially like the idea to purée the fried onion in food processor to make the cooking stock.

  4. ahavotre says:

    we always discard the cooking water from the lentils and add fresh water..much more refined and digestable

  5. Teebo says:

    Funny how you use bulghur instead of rice, originally from the Bekaa al-gharbe, I’ve never seen it made that way!

    Thank you for your AMAZING blog. As you seem to like french sayings, do you know that on: Vous rendez ses lettres de noblesse à la cuisine libanaise.

    Thank you for your work.

    T

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