Rice and lentils are two of my favorite foods, but I love them even more when they’re paired together. I was on a Mejadra kick the last few weeks and loved every bite. Mejadra is a Middle Eastern-Mediterranean dish of rice and lentils cooked with warming spices (not spicy) and topped with fried onions. I tried two recipes recently, one by Ottolenghi and one in the new Staub cookbook. The Staub recipe was by far my favorite.
I made Mejadra for Rosh Hashana lunch and to break the fast on Yom Kippur. Both times I was trying to accommodate the vegans in the group (I served the yogurt on the side), but everyone dug into it and enjoyed it so much. I was worried there wasn’t going to be leftovers for me, so I snuck some into a container so I could eat it a few days later. Mejadra is one of those easy, flavorful, hearty dishes that should be in every rice-and-legume-eater’s back pocket. It goes with anything and everything and the leftovers reheat beautifully on their own, with a fried egg on top, with avocado, with a basic salad, or with some stock and turned into a soup.
I didn’t follow this recipe exactly – I used mint instead of chervil leaves and I pan-fried my own shallots, as opposed to buying them already fried in a can. Or just saute onions and stir those in. Plus, I do have a Staub cast iron cocotte, which I LOVE, but you can use a regular old pot and I am sure it will taste just as delish.
Speaking of Staub, their cookbook authored by my friend Amanda Frederickson, is gorgeous with a capital G. It’s not a book focused on uber healthful foods, mind you. The dessert section doesn’t stay away from sugar, for example. But let me tell you, I want to make and eat everything in this book! Chicken meatballs in red coconut curry sauce; toasty honey corn loaf; pumpkin, bacon and kale gratin; spiced chocolate fondue!
Let me know if you have a favorite way to make Mejadra since I am obsessed at the moment. And if you make this or any of my recipes, please tag me so I can see your creations! @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman
- ½ cup green lentils (or brown, but NOT
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cane sugar
- ⅔ cup white basmati rice
- For Serving:
- Plain Greek yogurt (optional, but I was surprised how much I liked it)
- Fresh herbs, I used mint
- Crispy shallots (I sauteed some in a skillet with olive oil)
- Ground Cayenne (it's really hot!)
- Put the lentils in a cast-iron petite French oven, add water to cover, then add the bay leaves and salt. Place over medium heat, bring to a low boil and boil for 12 to 15
minutes,until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water.
- Heat the oil in a 4-quart cast-iron cocotte and add the onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring
occasionally,until the onion takes on a golden brown color.
- Add the turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, and sugar and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the cooked lentils and reserved lentil stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 11 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cover the pot with a clean, dry tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes to let the rice rest and absorb all the flavors.
- Serve the rice topped with yogurt, crispy shallots, a sprinkle of cayenne, and herbs.