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 is called mujaddra hamra 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.
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
- Wash and clean the lentils, watching for loose pieces of stone.
- Place the lentils in a pot, cover with about 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Take off the scum from the surface and add to the broth a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick and a few sprigs of parsley.
- Simmer on medium heat for about 20 -30 minutes until the lentils are cooked but still firm.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Drop the onions and oil in the pot with the lentil broth. Simmer the broth and onions for 15 minutes.
- Cool the broth and then liquidize in a blender until the onions are pureed with the broth.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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