From Beirut to London in 100 Dishes

Mujadara — brown lentils and rice

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Clearly, this is not the most photogenic of Lebanese dishes.  It needs as much soft focus as an ageing diva from the golden age of Hollywood.  It is said in Beirut that if you can’t make a plate of mujadara, you better keep out of the kitchen the rest of your life.  It is just about the cheapest and most basic meal you can make — a feast only for the poorest of the poor.  But it is extremely nutritious.  When I was studying at university in Beirut, I used to make a big plate of mujadara and invite my friends.  Even now, my Lebanese friends in London get excited about the dish — the power of nostalgia…

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Ingredients

100 g of brown lentils

8 glasses of water

25 g of short grain white rice

1 onion medium size peeled and diced

4 large spoons of olive oil

1/2 tea spoon of salt

1/2 half tea spoon of black pepper

1/2 tea spoon of ground cumin

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  • Put the brown lentils on a tray.  Sieve and sort them to remove any grit.
  • Put the lentils in a medium size non-stick pan then wash them and add fresh water.
  • Once the lentils start to boil, cover the pan with a lid then reduce temperature to minimum.
  • Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  • Now, wash the rice and add to lentils and leave to cook for 10 minutes at low temperature.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, add the diced onions and fry until golden brown.
  • Add the onion to the rice and lentils, then add salt, pepper and cumin.
  • Leave to cook for around 30 mins.
  • Stir from time to time so the lentils don’t stick to the pan.
  • Serve hot or cold with Lebanese flat bread, pickled turnip and olives.
  • Use a hand-held blender on the mujadara if you want to give it a smoother texture.

 

You can also turn the mujadara into a soup if you want to with the addition of two extra glasses of water and a squeeze of lemon.

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