Mejadra

A Middle Eastern dish of rice, lentils, and fried onions with a warm spice palate.

Inspired by the Serious Eats review of Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Print Recipe
Mejadra
Cook Time 2-2.5 hours
Preparations
(each preparation makes 9 cups)
Ingredients
Rice/lentil ingredients by volume:
Onion frying ingredients by volume:
Cook Time 2-2.5 hours
Preparations
(each preparation makes 9 cups)
Ingredients
Rice/lentil ingredients by volume:
Onion frying ingredients by volume:
Instructions
Rice/lentil instructions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat.
  2. While the olive oil is heating up, place the lentils in a small saucepan. Cover with plenty of water (around 3 cups), bring to a boil, and then cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain the lentils and set aside.
  3. While the lentils are cooking. add the cumin and coriander seeds to the heated olive oil and toast for a minute or two.
  4. Add the allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, salt, and agave to the cumin/coriander seeds. Stir briefly to combine, then add the rice. Stir until the rice is coated with the oil/spices.
  5. When the lentils are done, combine the rice/spices mixture with the cooked lentils and the water. If you have a rice maker, transfer the whole mixture to the rice maker, set it for white rice, and let it do its thing.
  6. If you don’t have a rice maker, wait until the onions are done cooking, then try following the rice/lentil cooking instructions from the original recipe: "bring the water to a boil, cover with a lid, and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Then remove from the heat, lift off the lid, and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes."
  7. When the onion is done frying and the rice/lentils are done cooking, add most of the onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently. Pile the mixture in a serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.
Onion frying instructions:
  1. While the rice maker is working, make the onions. First, heat the peanut oil on medium-high heat in a very tall pot – ideally there should be at least five inches between the oil line and the top of the pot.
  2. Peel the onions and slice thinly into long crescents – I used my food processor with a 4 mm slicing blade.
  3. Place the onions on a large surface like a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the flour and salt, and mix well with your hands.
  4. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously.
  5. Carefully (it will spit!) add as much of the onion as fits in one layer in the pot. Fry, stirring every few minutes with a slotted spoon, until the lightest bits at the center of each onion strand are light brown, and the darkest bits at the edges are no darker than medium brown. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander lined with paper towels.
  6. Fry the rest of the onion in the same way; add extra peanut oil if needed. This will take a while – plan to spend 45 minutes cleaning up the kitchen while you wait for the onion to fry. I typically fry in three batches in a 10-inch diameter pot.

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