Forget the ease of this recipe and the awesome nutritional benefits of eating a (tasty!) complete vegetarian protein. Mujaddara is one of the most beloved middle eastern foods due to its simplicity (it’s still just rice and lentils) but complex flavors. It is a wonderful side dish to any meat or fish but will also make a main course all by itself, accompanied by a fresh salad and some cheese or yogurt sauce.
The thing is, sometimes new approaches to age old traditions is just the way to go. Why soak the lentils, cook them separately, measure rice, cook again, fry onions, dirty dishes? Trying new flavors is a little like learning a new language. You could spend money on long, in-class sessions you have to commute to, or you could do it online (like here).
My Mujaddara is based on pearl barley instead of white rice, because of its nutritional benefits and because according to my sneaky secret trick, it has about the same cooking time as the lentils, thus allowing us hurried people to have another cup of much needed coffee. Make this dish. You’ll love it!
1 cup dry green lentils
1 cup pearl barley
4 Tbsp Canola oil
2 onions, pealed and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp black pepper. It’s up to you.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Baharat or 1/4 tsp cinnamon + another 1/2 tsp of cumin
1. Fill a large pot with water, add the lentils and bring to a boil. stir occasionally.
2. In the mean time, heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onions till they begin to brown. High heat is the way to go here. Add spices and stir fry until your kitchen smells like heaven. Cut the heat and cover the pan.
3. As the water boils, add a good pinch of salt and the barley and cook for about 25 minutes. Taste the lentils as you go to reach the level of tenderness you like. Turn the heat back on under the onions then drain the lentils/barley in the sink.
4. Add lentils and barley to the onions and stir together on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.