My first encounter with this divine grain-based meal happened a couple of summers back. I was minding my own plate at a lazy afternoon picnic, and try as I might, I just couldn’t manage to keep my eyes off the food being passed around at the next blanket. The intoxicating aromas of onion and garlic were driving me crazy.
Having no social boundaries whatsoever when it comes to food I leaned over, excused myself for interrupting, and politely asked this scantily-clad woman what she could possibly be eating that smelled so incredible. And then she said it. Mujadarrah. “Excuse me?” I said. “Mujadarrah,” she said it again. We had a bit of a discussion regarding the part of the world this particular meal originated in as well as how it was traditionally prepared. Although she had purchased it at a local ethnic food market in the area where she lived, she knew an awful lot about it, enough to educate me. And then, probably because I wouldn’t leave her alone, she offered to let me taste it. To say the least, I was hooked. Thus, began my search for the perfect Mujadarrah recipe.
The joys and virtues of this simple dish are enormous. I’ve become a firm believer that some of the best recipes are often the simplest ones. A dish that requires a small investment in time and an even smaller investment of money yet has an enormous return is certainly something of value. Once considered a peasant’s supper, Mujadarra has graduated into the main stream (at least, in my mind) to become what is known as a complete and well-balanced food.
Mujadarra is quite high in protein because of the lentils, which are the basis for this gift from the Middle East. Of course, there are as many variations on this recipe as there are ways to spell it. Mudardara, mujaddara, mujadarrah! Any way you prefer it, it’s simply delicious. Mudjadarra can be served on its own or as a side with vegetables of choice. Personally, I’ll take it any way I can get it!
4 sweet onions, medium diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/3 cups uncooked green lentils
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp clarified butter
½ cup vegetarian broth
Salt/pepper to taste.
Sautee onion in olive oil until onion it begins to caramelize. Add garlic and continue to cook until onions and garlic are translucent and aromatic.
Place lentils in a medium size saucepan with enough cold salted water to cover them. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Continue to simmer, tasting regularly, until lentils are done.
Add 1-cup bulgur to 2 cups salted boiling water. Remove from heat and stir well. Let sit covered without heat for 7 minutes. Drain.
Add bulgur to lentils, add ½ cup vegetarian broth and mix well.
I like the vegetarian broth in the image best. The brand name is Better Than Bouillon and the flavor is called Vegetarian No Chicken Base.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Top with caramelized onion and garlic, and serve.
I brought this tray to the next event I attended and it got rave reviews. I kept telling everyone how much I loved it when my friend’s son (all of eight years old) turned to me and said “if you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?”
Maybe I will!
The Big Tine