This is an Egyptian dish I first tasted while attending class at the Taos Cooking School several years ago. Chef Chris Maher shared this recipe, a favorite from his childhood memories. It is simple and comforting food that I like to serve for lunch or dinner. It’s good hot or at room temperature. Next time you’re entertaining vegetarian friends you might want to give it a try. On paper it isn’t a recipe that would grab my attention, but somehow the mix of flavors and textures is just delicious. And how can you go wrong with carmelized onions?
The tomato sauce is quite thin so you don’t see it in this photo, but you can certainly taste it. The cayenne gives it a nice bite. Oh, and I seem to have forgotten the parley garnish. I knew there was something missing! This lentil and rice dish is popular throughout the Middle East, called megadara/mujadara in Syria, Lebanon, and Greece and koshari in Egypt. A similar dish called kedegeree or kitchiri is popular in India. Here’s the recipe:
1/2 lb. black or green lentils
1/8 c. olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. cayenne
6 oz. tin tomato paste
kosher or sea salt
3 c. water
scant cup of vinegar
1 lb. white rice (I use brown)
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
Rinse lentils under cold water. Place lentils in a pot and cover generously with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to vigorous simmer until lentils are soft. Drain and add salt to taste.
Carmelize onions – place julienne onions and 1/8 c. oil on high heat. Stir often until they begin to brown, then turn to medium. Stir frequently until all are brown.
In a 2 quart pan, heat 1/4 cup oil and whole garlic cloves & thoroughly brown. Add cayenne and tomato paste and sauté. Add water and vinegar. Simmer until it thickens slightly.
Make rice – bring salted water to boil. Add rice and stir. When it boils again, stir and turn to a simmer. (or use rice cooker)
Layer rice, lentils and onions. Pour on some sauce. Serve rest of sauce on the side. Garnish with parsley. Serve, sit down and savor.