This is a poor man’s dish in Lebanon. We have many types of lentils that are grown in the Bekaa valley. They range in colour from green to reddish brown.
When I was a child, my grandmother used to make this dish for us with green lentils that grew in her village. She used burghul — cracked wheat — rather than rice, though. As a Beiruti, I know the dish as Moudardara, although it is also called Mujadara. But I and other Beirutis would say that they are in fact two separate dishes, using different types of lentils in different quantities. Both, however, are very healthy and simple to make — and good for vegetarians. (I have just checked this in an old Lebanese cookbook that is one of the few things I brought with me from Beirut when I moved to England. It has long been a bible of recipes for me — and it gives two separate entries for moudardara and mujadara. )
200g of green lentils
4 glasses of water
2 large spoons of vegetable oil
2 medium size onions peeled and sliced
1/2 tea spoon of white sugar
200g of basmati rice washed
2 tea spoon of cumin
1/2 tea spoon of salt
1/2 tea spoon of black pepper
- In a medium size pot wash the lentils, then add 4 glasses of fresh water, cover with the lid and put on the hob on high temperature to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are slightly soft.
- Make sure the water covers the lentils at all times, add hot water if necessary.
- Meanwhile, in a non stick cooking pan put 2 large spoons of vegetable oil and fry the sliced onions until golden brown, add the sugar half way.
- Once ready remove the onion to one side, add the rice to the pan then add the cooked lentils including the water, just enough to cover the rice.
- Stir well, then add cumin, salt, black pepper, mix and cover the pot with the lid.
- Once the water starts to boil, reduce temperature to minimum and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
- Serve hot and garnish the rice with the caramelised onions.
- Best with yogurt and dried mint or bowl of salad.