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Lebanese Lentils

Another dish my sister made for me while I was down in North Carolina is a Lebanese staple. We first had it at her place and then again while dining out at Neomonde in Raleigh (along with a ton of other Mediterranean food by way of their pick-your-own sample plates).

I’ll let her describe it, since — as was often the case — I was playing the role of sous chef that night. :)

The lentils, rice, and caramelized onion dish is a Lebanese dish called mjaddarah (Erin: also see mejadra or mujadara). The basic recipe is to cook equal portions of brown rice and lentils, then caramelize some onions (yellow onions are best since they tend to have the highest natural sugar content and are therefore good for caramelizing). Mix the rice, lentils and half the onions together and put in a baking dish. Top with remaining half of onions and bake to warm ingredients together and if you want to brown up the onions on the top. I used a 1 pound bag of lentils and 3 cups of brown rice (which obviously cooks to be more than 3 cups). I used 3 large yellow onions, but could have easily used 4 or 5 since they cook down quite a bit (and the onions add all the flavor to the dish). I cooked the lentils for about 40 minutes (you still want them to have some structure so they don’t smoosh when you mix up the ingredients). The onions take the longest…about 1 hour to caramelize the onions. I cut the onions in half rings and separated them into a pan, added less than 1 tbsp of olive oil, then let them cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Towards the end of cooking, after they are very soft and starting to caramelize on their own, I added 1 tsp of brown sugar (could do it without this, but this helps to finish the caramelizing process). Continue to cook, stirring frequently until a nice brown color (need to be very careful not to burn the onions at any point during the hour of cooking or the flavor will be ruined).

simple salad of cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and balsamic vinegar

Another tip from my sis:

Caramelized onions could make many dishes taste terrific. I read a suggestion on the web one day to caramelize a bunch of onions and freeze them in small portions to grab and thaw out for quicker use of caramelized onions on many different dishes. I haven’t tried this yet, but it is a good suggestion since it takes a long time to caramelize onions. This way you could just have them at the ready whenever you wanted to use them.

Thanks Amera, for keeping me well-fed while I was down there (both at home and while showing me around), for allowing me to share your words on the blog, for introducing yourself on the forums, etc.. :)

2 Responses to “Lebanese Lentils”

  1. River says:

    So simple (if you don’t count caramelizing those onions!) and would be wonderfully tasty as well as looking and smelling great. Must try that soon. I often cook lentils and rice together, but not this way. I’m in for a treat! Btw, I freeze my caramelized onions in small packages too. Works just fine! Hugs.

  2. I only recently learned the joys and flavours of caramelized onions. I also appreciate any dish containing lentils. This is definitely going into my recipe notebook.

    Thanks for sharing it Erin and Amera.

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