Crisp caramelized onions, fluffy jasmine rice, and plump French lentils, maybe with a dollop of yogurt (plain or spiced), all sounds good to me. We are always trying to find flavorful side dishes that also make great leftovers, and Mujaddara fits the bill. Research tells us Mujaddara is a Middle Eastern dish with many variations but most are based on the simple combination of rice, lentil and onions. We found the combined textures a surprising pleasure and the flavors ... delightful at the start, improve with age. Add some spices to some plain yogurt for zip and serve with a salad of your own creation, and this could be a delicious meal ... even for a carnivore.
¾ cup Puys lentils (a.k.a. French lentils, the tiny dark brown ones)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), halved and thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Put lentils, ½ teaspoon salt, and 4 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer lentils until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside. Rinse the pot.
- Add rice, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 ½ cups water to an oven-proof pot, set over medium heat and bring to a boil. When the water begins to boil, cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 17 minutes until perfectly cooked. Remove from oven, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
- While the rice cooks, set a wide, deep sauce pan over medium-low heat and add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the butter is mostly melted, add onions and toss to incorporate with the butter and oil.
- After 5 minutes, onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes more, until the onions are very soft and browned. Add water by the tablespoon if pan gets too dry or onions start to stick. When the onions are well browned, add the last tablespoon of olive oil and raise the heat to high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions has charred and crisped; try not to stir too much, or onions won't crisp.
- Combine rice, lentils, and most of the onions in a large serving bowl and let sit at least 15 minutes, to marry the flavors together. (Truth be told, this dish improves with age.) Taste and add more onions as desired.
- Serve with yogurt, plain or spiced, and a salad.
- If the mujaddara has cooled significantly, reheat in a low oven or even in the microwave for a couple of minutes.