Monday, March 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Mujdhara

Muja-what?  Come on...I know you were scratching your head on this one!

Mujdhara (according to Recipes from the Root Cellar) is a Syrian rice and lentil classic dish that has as many variations as it has spellings including:  mjudra, mujadra, and mejadra.  Among Jewish communities in the Middle East, the dish is sometimes nicknamed "Esau's Favorite", after the Biblical story in which Esau sold his birthright for a "mess of pottage".  It is that good.

Maybe in Biblical times it was "that good", but today if Esau told me he sold his birthright for some of this Mujdhara I would have asked him if he lost his mind.  The dish is just bland.  Bland, bland, bland!  I cooked the onions longer than 10 minutes so they would be soft and sweet, and they supplied the only taste to the "pottage".  There is a nice creamy, nutty, lingering on the tongue after you've eaten a bite but even that is not enough to save the dish.  If you think I'm being a bit harsh let me add that even Paul didn't like it!  He said it was really bland, and went to put some salt on it.  When I asked if he liked it better after adding salt he said, yes.  Then he looked a little sheepish, and confessed that he actually put soy sauce on it.

I just figured out what it reminds me of.  When I was a child and my stomach was upset my mom would make me very soft soupy rice (almost a porridge).  As an adult I can't stand the stuff, but as a child I thought it was wonderful.  Maybe that's the appeal of this dish?  Sort of a childhood dish you have a nice memory of?  I don't know.  I'm just happy I decided to halve the recipe since it's only Paul and I for dinner tonight.

Recipes from the Root Cellar
Yield:  Serves 4

1 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed
1 tsp salt, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Freshly ground black pepper

     In a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with water by about 3 inches and add 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and boil gently, partially covered, until the lentils are tneder but still hold their shpae, about 25 minutes.  Drain and rinse the lentiles with hot water.
     Meanwhile, combine the rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 1/4 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the water absorbed, about 30 minutes.
     While the rice and lentils cook, heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan.  Add the onions, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes.
     Add the cooked lentils and rice to the onions.  Add the buttermilk to moisten and bind the mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Variation:  For an interesting variation, substitute cooked wheat berries for the rice.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad! Thank you for being our guinea pig!