Mejadra – More than the sum of its parts
You’ll tell me when you’re bored from Jerusalem-dishes? But this is such a flavourful but nevertheless everyday dish, that I had to post it. Ottolenghi and Tamimi got me when they told stories about family picnics where a big bowl of mejadra must not have been missing. And as I’m always into those (mostly simple) dishes that are packed full with the flavour of childhood memories, I had to try this lentil rice.
The other reason was that I had eaten some versions of this dish a few times in arab restaurants and was eager to have this on a more regular basis at home.
I gave it swabian touch by using “Albleisa”, lentils that have been traditionally grown on the Swabian Alb and rediscovered in recent times. They come in different varieties. The ones I prefare have the sice of beluga lentils and look beautiful with their darkgreen marbled colour. The have a very aromatic nutty taste and are markedly firm in cooking, which I thought would be a good choice for this recipe.
Cause I thought the mejadra for itself could be a bit of a dry business, I complemented it with a refreshing 5-minute-cucumber-salad. Thanks to the preparation the lentil rice turned out to be far less dry than I had imagined, but the cucumbers where nice with it anyway. We ate the mejadra hot, but you can also eat it – like Tamimis family – cold, f.ex. as a picnic dish. It’s really a feel good dish, that mostly prepares itself. Thanks to the spices it’s full of flavour, the lentils give some creaminess to it and the fried onions add a beautiful sweet-bitter note. Great! “The dish far surpasses the sum of its parts” – that is true!
As I mentioned, this is a recipe that you usually cook in big batches, to serve your whole extended family. So, adapting Ottolenghis and Tamimis recipe I had to reduce the amounts a lot to make a 2-persons-meal of it. Especially with regard to the used spices this ended in somehow impractical miniature measurements. Just use them as rough orientation and follow your own tastebuds!
Mejadra with cucumber salad (2p.)
[adapted from Jerusalem]
80 g green or brown lentils, 70 g basmati rice, 2 small onions, 1 tablespoon flour, about 80 ml sunflower oil, 1 teaspoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, ½ teaspoon grounded piment, 1 teaspoon cinammon, dash of curcuma, ½ teaspoon sugar, oil
½ cucumber, 1 cup (goat) yoghurt (150g), 1 teaspoon dried mint, ½ clove garlic
In a small pot cover lentils with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain and set aside.
Peel the onions, halfen and slice thinly. In a bowl coat onion rings with flour and a dash of salt. Cover the bottom of a medium pan generously with sunflower oil (roughly half of the whole amount), heat until it’s really hot. Fry onions in it: Work in two batches and leave each one in the hot oil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be brown and crispy. Cool out on layered paper towels, that soak waste oil.
Wipe the pan, heat up again and put in cumin and coriander seeds. Roast for about a minute, then add the rice, olive oil, remaining spices, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir-fry for a minute, then add about 100 ml of water and lentils. Bring to boil, cover with a lid, reduce to low heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile wash and slice cucumber and mix with joghurt, mint and garlic. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Take lentil rice off the heat, take the lid off and cover with a clean towel. Set for 10 more minutes.
Finally, add half the onions to the rice and lentils and stir in gently. Pile the mixture in a serving bowl, top with the rest of the onions and serve together with cucumber salad.