By: Kate Davies
I discovered the joy of these savory lentils in my early twenties. In addition to being a simple, affordable meal, stewed lentils and rice topped with fried onion is pure comfort. Mujadra, Mejadra, and Mujadara are all names for the middle-eastern dish, which typically has warm spices and is sometimes served with yogurt sauce. Mejadra (as I’ll call it from now on) is like chicken soup. There are many ways to make it, and those of us who have developed our own version regard it as a warm and satisfying staple when comfort food is required.
Some versions of Mejadra are ‘one-pot’ meals (Hungerpot, anyone?) however I love pairing my lentils with Farro (a hearty, ancient form of wheat). Farro requires a longer cooking time than rice, which can complicate the timing if you don’t want your lentils to turn to mush. This is a marvelous opportunity to use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water to increase the rich, savory profile of this dish.
1 cup Farro
3 cups stock, water, or a combination
1 tsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
-Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan.
-Add the farro and cook briefly until it smells toasty.
-Add the bay leaf, a bit of salt, and the cooking liquid.
-Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Check the farro for doneness, and add a bit more liquid if more time seems necessary.
1 cup Puy lentils (also known as French Green)
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, whole
2 small shallots, chopped
1 tsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
generous pinch of ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups stock, water, or a combination
salt and pepper
-Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan.
-Add the garlic and shallots and saute briefly.
-Add the ground spices and cook while stirring for 1 minute.
-Add the bay leaf, honey, and liquid.
-Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Check the lentils frequently when the liquid is mostly absorbed.
-Salt and pepper to taste
Fried Onion Garnish:
flour as needed to coat
salt and pepper
Peanut oil for frying
-Heat the peanut oil in a large, shallow frying pan.
-Combine salt, pepper, and flour in a large mixing bowl.
-Slice the onions thinly.
-Toss the onions in the flour until well coated.
-Fry the onions in small batches, taking care not to crowd the pan.
-Cool the onions on paper towels.
Serve in shallow bowls with farro on the bottom, a generous helping of lentils, and fried onions on the top. The onions are worth the extra bit of effort, trust me!