Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How to Enjoy Mujaddara:

So… there's this thing I'm obsessed with. Most of the time, obsessions are unhealthy - riddled with heartbreak, non-sensical daydreams and horrible time management. Thankfully though, this time at least, I'm obsessed with something that's quite good for me… whew!

I'd like to introduce you to mujaddara aka moujadara aka mejadra aka megadarra aka it goes on and on! This little thing has a boat load of names but really, it's not as complicated as it makes itself seem. Mujaddara (the way I like to spell it) is a simple mixture of green lentils, rice and caramelized onions and it is, by far, one of the most delicious things I've come across. If you're unfamiliar with it, I can't stress enough how much I want you, wait, no - strike that - NEED you, to try this! I even left you here with three delicious ways to eat it - so you don't even have to think at all. Just let your body do all the work and your stomach do the enjoying!
{The recipe}

Yields: about 8 - 10 servings
Original recipe from Zov: Recipes and Memories from the Heart.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
5 3/4 cups water
2 cups dried green lentils
6 tbsn. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups long-grain white rice
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they are deep golden brown and caramelized, about 45 minutes; set aside. Combine the water and lentils in a heavy large saucepan. Cover and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the lentils are almost tender, but still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter, add the rice, salt and pepper. Cover and bring the cooking liquid to a boil again over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice and lentils are tender and the cooking liquid is absorbed (do not stir the mixture as it cooks), about 20 minutes. If some water remains unabsorbed, rem the saucepan from the heat and let it stand uncovered for 5 minutes. Fold the caramelized onions into the pilaf. 
{How to eat Mujaddara Pt. I}
This Moroccan salmon salad is divine. It's inspired by a salad from a restaurant called Zov's in Tustin and it's the most ingenious use of mujaddara I've seen to date. Take a moment to think about it: warm, comforting rice pilaf under a bed of fresh mixed greens in a tangy but sweet vinaigrette with bites of brine-y feta, juicy tomatoes and tender, spiced salmon. Yeah... I think that about sums that up.
The essential components:
Moroccan Salmon Salad
Yields: 4 servings
Inspired by a salad from Zov's: Cafe & Bakery in Tustin, California.

For the salad:
4 salmon filets, washed and patted dry
4 tsp. Moroccan spices (recipe below)*
10 cups of mixed baby greens
2 plum tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup crumbled French feta cheese
2 cups cooked mujaddarah (recipe above)

For the balsamic vinaigrette (this will make more than needed for the salad):
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsn. Dijon mustard
2 tbsn. finely chopped shallots
2 tbsn. pure maple syrup
1 tbsn. pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

To make the vinaigrette, blend the balsamic, vinegar, rice vinegar, garlic, mustard, shallots, maple syrup, molasses, salt and pepper in a blender until smooth. With the machine running, gradually pour the oil in a thin stream until emulsified. Should keep for 3 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Rub each salmon filet in 1 tsp. of Moroccan spice rub (or alternatively, you can do what I did below). Sear the filets on each side till cooked through, about 3 - 4 minutes on each side; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the mixed greens, feta cheese and diced tomato. Toss with just enough dressing to coat. Lay out 4 serving plates. Top each plate with 1/2 cup of warm mujaddara. Divide the salad among the four plates, then top each with a salmon filet. Enjoy!

* If you don't want to make the Moroccan spice mix, you can just sprinkle each salmon filet with a pinch of each spice listed below, which is what I did because I was too lazy to make the spice mix. 
Moroccan Spices
Yields: 3/4 cup
Original recipe from Zov: Recipes and Memories from the Heart.

3 tbsn. paprika
2 tbsn. dried thyme
2 tbsn. ground cumin
1 tbsn. ground nutmeg
1 tbsn. ground black pepper
1 tbsn. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground allspice

Stir all the ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Transfer to a jar and seal with a lid. 

{How to eat Mujaddara Pt. II}
When I saw this recipe, I wanted to make it immediately. Then I had this thought that popped into my head, it literally was one of those 'lightbulb' moments where you realize something so great your ego, not your head, seems to glow. I decided instead of stuffing the mushrooms with rice, such as in the recipe, I'd stuff it with mujaddara! Why not? Since it already is lovely with feta, I'd knew the combination would work and be even more lovely... and can I say, it was quite lovely. The perfect appetizer or it would make a great lunch on top of some baby greens.
Mujaddara & Feta Stuffed Mushrooms
Yields: 4 servings, as a side
Adapted from here.

12 large cremini mushrooms
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 cup mujaddara (recipe above)
3 tbsn. feta
1 garlic clove
2 tbsn. parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to broil. Place the mujaddara, feta, garlic, parsley in a bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside. Remove all the stems from the mushrooms, discard and save and add to another meal some other day. Place the mushrooms, stem side down on  baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Place the mushrooms, stem side down in the oven about 4" from the top for 2 - 3 minutes. When they are done, flip them over, fill with the rice mixture and broil until the filling is hot, about 2 minutes. 
{How to eat Mujaddara Pt. III}
This recipe was inspired by one of my new favorite blogs, Cooking After Five. I stumbled upon it the other day, and I'm in love! The recipes, the photos, everything was right up my alley! Anyways I've been looking for new ways to eat my mujaddara and I had never seen it the way Nicole from Cooking After Five eats it here. Since I already had some herbed lebni in my fridge, I decided to play around with that and this is what I came up with. It's tangy, comforting and delicious, especially with the crunch from the slivered almonds. I simply love slivered almonds... add them to anything, and it will instantly be more delicious. Promise.

Mujaddara with Herb-Lebni Sauce

mujaddara (recipe above)
1 lemon, juiced
slivered almonds, toasted

To make the herb-lebni sauce, add the lemon juice to the lebni sauce to thin it out. Add some water to thin it out some more, to the consistency of a hollandaise sauce. Serve drizzled on top of the mujaddarah with some toasted, slivered almonds. 


  1. Hi Michelle! I saw the photos earlier in my RSS reader and this looks and sounds yuuuummy, but I wanted you to know that this version's photos don't seem to be loading.

  2. Thanks Xialou!! I've been having all sorts of weird things with blogger lately -__- , hopefully it should be fixed now!

  3. I've never even heard of this before, but it sounds great :)

  4. My husband's grandfather reportedly ate the plain version every Friday for most of his life. Plain yoghurt with herbs is a great and easy to obtain substitute for the lebni. Try pickles (cucumbers, beets) as an accompaniment. I'm glad to see someone else enjoying this dish.

  5. I've never heard of this either, it all looks delicious too!!!! I must try it

  6. i adore these photos, to die for really

  7. a friend from Lebanon introduced me to this and I love it! However I have never made it with rice, and use Bulghur Wheat instead. But I also enjoy it with Lebni and some olive oil.

  8. Michelle! I initially started following your blog because the first post I read of yours promised a recipe for green apple vinaigrette coming soon!!! Needless to say, I've fallen in love with your entire blog, but I just now realized I still havent seen the recipe! Is it coming soon? It sounds so good and interesting! :)

  9. @ Anonymous: I am soooo sorry!!! I totally forgot I said it would come soon. I have so many backed up posts, sometimes I skip things so make way for new posts. I will post that on next, I promise - so keep your eyes open! It really is delicious :)

  10. I've never heard of this but it sure sounds delicious!

  11. I made the mujaddara with quinoa and it turned out so good! Your blog is wonderful, there are so many recipes I cant wait to try!