My name is Nada, and I am a food hoarder.
It’s true. I constantly buy more of the same foods and squirrel them away in cupboards and drawers where they remain long-forgotten for months on end. I discovered this most unfortunate trait during my Living with less challenge last month.
Determined to lower my weekly grocery shopping bill, declutter my kitchen and use up any surplus pantry staples, I turned the contents of my cupboards inside out, and boy did I find some gems. Unopened packets of rice noodles and rice paper, wakame and kombu seaweed, whole flaxseeds, freekeh, TVP chunks, chickpea flour and bag upon bag of dried legumes. Split peas, black-eyed peas, adzuki beans and a plethora of lentils in all their varieties – I’m fairly certain I could’ve given the bulk bins at my favourite supermarket a run for their money with the stock I had accumulated.
In any case, I’m happy to report that I managed to whittle down my pantry quite nicely throughout the month of March.
Through my kitchen experiments, I discovered that contrary to the faintly printed date at the bottom of a year-old box, TVP doesn’t really expire; that rice noodles and gluten-free pasta are essentially one and the same; and that I don’t make Mujaddara nearly as often as I should.
Also known as Mudardara in some circles, Mujaddara is a humble Levantine dish of brown lentils and white rice traditionally topped with crispy caramelised onions. It may not sound like much, but this cumin-infused combination is downright delicious, filling and of course incredibly frugal.
My brown rice version is a little more wholesome but every bit as tasty as the original, I promise.
- 1 cup brown lentils, washed and rinsed
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½-1 tbsp cumin powder
- Sea salt to taste
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- Spring onions or fried onions to garnish
- In a a medium pot on moderate heat, sauté the onions and in olive oil for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the cumin and garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
- Add the rice, lentils and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil then lower heat and cover, allowing to simmer and cook until all water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
- Season with salt and additional cumin if desired. Do a quick taste test to ensure lentils and rice are cooked through. If needed, add another ½ cup of water and allow to cook until absorbed.
- Garnish with caramelised onions or fresh spring onions and serve.
Older readers of this blog may recall that I had a recipe for this very dish quite some time ago, but it was unfortunately sucked up into the ether when my previous web host decided to unceremoniously delete all of my content a few years ago. In any case, what’s past is past.
My favourite thing about Mujaddara is that it’s so versatile and incredibly satiating.
I initially whipped up a huge batch to go with a selection of mezzes as part of a meal-prep bowl (tofu halloumi, kale fattoush, beetroot hummus and roasted cauliflower) but ended up devouring the leftovers on top salads, as a base for buddha bowls and even as a supplement to a vegetable soup.
Really, you could have this anywhere you would have rice, flavour combinations allowing, of course.
A few notes:
- Some recipes call for cooking the rice and lentils separately, but I personally prefer the flavour and convenience of making everything in the same pot.
- If you want to shorten the cooking time, try soaking your rice and lentils separately overnight before combining to cook.
- I always use a heat distributor for rice and grain dishes like this one (thank you Mama for the lifelong tip), and would highly recommend it as it helps the dish cook evenly and reduces the risk of getting those burned sticky bits of rice at the bottom of the pot.
- I serve mine with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh spring onions, but caramelised fried onions would definitely add a more “authentic” touch.
Until next time, friends.