Mejadra (lentils with rice and onions)

Mejadra is a Middle Eastern treat featuring lentils.

Mejadra is a Middle Eastern treat featuring lentils. (Credit: MCT)

1 1/3 cups (8 3/4 ounces) green or brown lentils

Water to cover lentils, plus 1 1/2 cups water

4 onions

3 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 cup sunflower oil, more as needed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 cup (7 ounces) basmati rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon sugar

1. Place lentils in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain.

2. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Sprinkle with flour and 1 teaspoon salt; mix well. In a saucepan, heat the sunflower oil over high heat. Check the temperature of the oil by tossing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously.

3. Reduce the temperature to medium-high and fry the onions, one-third at a time, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a colander lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt. Repeat with the remaining onions, adding oil as needed.

4. Discard the oil and wipe the saucepan clean. Add the cumin and coriander seeds. Place the pan over medium heat and toast the seeds lightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good sprinkling of pepper. Stir to coat the rice with oil, then add the cooked lentils and the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from heat, remove the lid and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes.

6. Add half of the fried onions to the rice and lentils and stir gently; this makes about 8 cups mejadra. Top with rest of the onions.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from "Jerusalem: A Cookbook" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

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