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Lebanese Rice with Lentils and Caramelized Onions (Mujaddara)

It had been a while since I actually tried something that tasted new. And then, I went for Middle Eastern food and tried mujaddara, rice with lentils and caramelized onions, and my tastebuds woke right up. They went 'ZING. That's new' and you know what? I really liked it. I mean LOVED it. And then I became a little obsessed with figuring out how to make it so I could eat it all the time. Adapted from Aarti Sequeira
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, pasta, rice & grains, soy-free, yeast-free
Servings: 4
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup brown lentils (rinsed and debris removed)
  • 3 onions thinly sliced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 stick of cinnamon (about 3”)
  • 1 ¼ cup basmati rice
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • Sea salt
  • Chopped parsley and lemon to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add lentils to a small pot and cover with about one inch of cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, covered. Lentils should be cooked, slightly firm and not mushy. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and let warm slightly. Add cumin seeds and black peppercorns and fry for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add onions, one teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine. Keep cooking and stir with a wooden spoon occasionally until onions are deeply browned and caramelized, about 25 minutes or so. Don’t rush this part and be careful not to burn the onions. Make sure to stir and scrape browned bits off the bottom of the pan. If onions stick, add a teaspoon of water and stir.
  • Once onions are browned, remove half the onions and set aside. Add ground cumin, allspice, garlic powder, cinnamon stick, and cayenne and stir, cook for about 1 minute. Add basmati rice and gently stir to coat with onion mixture, about 1 more minute being careful not to break the rice. Add water, lentils, 1 and ½ teaspoons salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 9 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for 15 minutes, letting residual heat continue to cook rice. The water should be completely absorbed and rice should be tender.
  • When ready to serve, gently stir rice and lentils together. Garnish with reserved onions and parsley. Serve with yogurt raita and a squeeze of lemon.
Adapted from Aarti Sequeira.