March 31, 2014


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Habeeb Salloum, Canada’s foremost expert on Middle Eastern cooking, first introduced me to this Arab comfort food. It is a homey, economical, satisfying vegan pilaf. This is my take on Mujaddara. It is usually a one-pot meal, but I feel more carefree cooking the rice and lentils separately, instead of fiddling with the timing.

      Middle Eastern comfort food. Credit: Susan Sampson


1 cup (250 mL) small brown/green lentils (7 oz/200 g), rinsed
3/4 cup (175 mL) basmati rice, rinsed
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tsp (5 mL) or more kosher salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, halved, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped parsley
Hot sauce to taste

In medium pan of boiling, salted water, cook lentils on medium-low heat 30 to 45 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain.

In same pan, heat rice, stock and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt on medium-high. When stock comes to boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 18 minutes, or until rice is tender and stock is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in 12-inch (30 cm) skillet, heat oil on medium-high until shimmery. Add onions. Cook, stirring often, 15 minutes, or until browned. Stir in garlic 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Add cumin, pepper, cinnamon and lentils to rice. Gently combine with fork. Adjust salt. Top with onion mixture. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot sauce alongside.

Makes 4 servings.

  • The onions should be browned, not mushy. If you have the time and inclination, fry the onions in two batches. They become crisper that way.
  • Non-vegans can use half oil/half unsalted butter to fry the onions.

Bright Ideas: Up the fibre content by using brown basmati. Extend the cooking time according to package directions.

Oh No: This dish is best eaten the same day. Rice toughens in the fridge.