March 31, 2014


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Toronto’s Habeeb Salloum, an 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 it. Mujaddara is usually a one-pot meal, but I feel more carefree cooking the rice and lentils separately, instead of fiddling with the timing. 

1 cup (250 mL) small brown/green lentils (about 8 oz/250 g), rinsed
3/4 cup (175 mL) basmati rice, rinsed
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt + more to taste
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, halved, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) 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 mixture comes to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 18 minutes, or until rice is tender and stock is absorbed.

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

Add cumin, pepper, cinnamon and lentils to rice. Using fork, combine gently.

Transfer to serving bowl. Adjust salt. Top with onions. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot sauce alongside.

Makes 4 servings.

  • You can use plain long-grain white rice instead of basmati. Or try brown rice, extending the cooking time according to package directions.
  • Non-vegans can use half oil/half unsalted butter to fry the onions.
  • 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.
  • This dish is best eaten the same day. Rice toughens in the fridge.

Credit: Susan Sampson
Tested in Imperial