Mujadara Spiced Rice & Lentils with Crispy Onions
A spiced blend of rice, lentils and crispy fried onions is just as fantastic as it sounds! Great comfort food and delicious with a fried egg on top, mujadara is a popular dish throughout the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean and this is a slightly quicker version using a tin of cooked lentils. Without the fried egg, this is also great as a vegan main with Fattoush Salad (see p30 in Ainsley’s Mediterranean Cookbook) or as a side dish to Bamia Okra, Garlic and Tomato Stew.
Place the onions in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with the flour and a good pinch of salt. Mix well.
Heat the sunflower or vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan with a lid over a medium–high heat. When hot (test by dropping in a little piece of onion to see if it sizzles), add the onion, in batches if necessary, and fry for 6–8 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining onion, adding more oil if needed.
Drain any remaining oil from the pan and wipe out the pan with kitchen paper (you can keep the onion oil for cooking curries or stews). Add the cumin seeds to the dry pan and toast over a medium heat for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the ground spices. Add the rice along with 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice for 1–2 minutes, then add the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan with the lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, put a tea towel under the lid of the saucepan to stop any steam escaping and leave to sit, covered, for 8–10 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the eggs (if using) to your liking.
Fluff the rice with a fork, check the seasoning, then add half of the fried onions and half the fresh herbs and fold through. Spoon the rice onto serving plates or bowls and top with a fried egg (or a dollop of dairy-free yoghurt), the remaining crispy onions and sprinkle over the remaining fresh herbs.
- 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp plain or gram (chickpea) flour
- 200ml sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
- 300g basmati rice, washed
- 1 x 400g tin green or brown lentils, drained and rinsed
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- fried eggs or dairy-free- yoghurt, to serve