Mujadarah Is Middle Eastern Comfort Food

Mujadarah, a Middle Eastern dish of spiced lentils and rice mixed with caramelized onions, is a humble combination that inspires deep devotion from Chowhounds. For scubadoo97, it's "simple soul food, cheap and satisfying"; prunefeet says it's "so much more than the sum of its parts."

One approach to making mujadarah is to cook the lentils with aromatics and spices, then combine them with caramelized onions and rice you've cooked separately. This ensures that each component is cooked to the perfect texture, and makes it easier to use longer-cooking brown rice rather than the traditional basmati.

A simpler way is to cook the rice with the spiced lentils (as in this recipe). That's scubadoo97's preferred method—he finds it makes a more flavorful dish. And he boosts the flavor by sautéing the raw rice in some of the oil used for cooking the onions.

Cumin and cinnamon are the key spices for TorontoJo. But for prima, more spices and a crispy fried onion topping make the version from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook amazing.

Serve mujadarah as a main dish with a dollop of yogurt and a tomato and cucumber salad, topped with poached or fried eggs, or as a hearty side with fish or meat. It also makes a great snack straight from the fridge, TorontoJo says.

Discuss: In praise of mujadara/mujadarra/mujadarah!

Photo by Flickr member YoAmes under Creative Commons