Meatless Monday: Mejadra

     This recipe is so good I can hardly stand it.  It was really fun to make as well.  From frying the onions, to grinding up the allspice berries in my mortar and pestle, to inhaling all the intoxicating aromas as the whole thing cooked, I had a good time in the kitchen.  I really love rice and so does Eric so I am always looking for another recipe to add to my rice repertoire.  This is yet another recipe I made from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, and it is a beaut.  There is something so wonderful about a recipe that makes the ordinary extraordinary, the simple divine.  Trust me when I sing praises for this dish, it is not misplaced.  There is so much going on here in the way of spices whole and ground, nuttiness from basmati rice, crunchy sweetness from fried red onions, an al dente bite of satisfying lentils, that it just made my mouth sing.  It tantalized my taste-buds and made me salivate.  After cooking this one up and taking pictures of it, I had my first bite and I could not stop until my bowl was empty.  It was so good.
     It was recommended in the book to serve it with a dollop of yogurt sauce.  I am a fan of yogurt and after a quick look in the book's index I found out how to make it.  The sauce adds just another depth of flavor and richness to this dish, but if going the vegan route just omit it.  The dish can stand alone without it, it is still phenomenal.  I dare you to try this dish out, it is sure to please.  And please let me know about your experience making, eating, and enjoying this wonderful recipe.


Recipe minimally adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook
  1. In small saucepan, place lentils and be sure to cover with plenty of water. Bring to boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. It is desired to have the lentils soften somewhat but still have an al dente bite to them. Drain and set lentils aside.
  2. Prepare onions, peel, cut in half, and thinly slice.
  3. Separate onions with finger and place on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with flour and season with salt, mixing well with hands.
  4. Heat frying oil in large heavy bottomed pan, ( I used the pot I make pasta in), over high heat. When oil is hot add 1/3 of the prepared onions. Fry for about 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to fry evenly and remove from frying oil when lightly golden browned and crisp. Place on paper towels. Season with salt.
  5. Repeat frying the remaining onions using the step above in 2 more batches.
  6. Using the same saucepan in which the lentils were cooked, add 2 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium flame.
  7. Add cumin (I used fennel seeds as I did not have cumin and it turned out great so use what you may have), and coriander seed. Toast seeds for a few minutes.
  8. Add rice, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and several grinds of freshly ground pepper. Stir to coat rice with spices, seeds, and olive oil.
  9. Return cooked lentils to rice and add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to boil and reduce to very low heat, simmering for 15 minutes.
  10. When 15 minutes is up, remove lid, place a kitchen towel over pot, and cover with lid. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  11. Make yogurt sauce, combining yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil. Stir thoroughly to combine.
  12. Serve rice with a mountain of fried onion over top and a dollop of yogurt sauce.

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