This rice and lentil pilaf is an easy and wholesome recipe based on the traditional Lebanese Mujadara. Some added spices, raisins and nuts make it extra warm and cozy.
The combination of rice and lentils is not uncommon in many countries of the Mediterranean. In Greece there’s a recipe called fakorizo, which means lentil rice, and is usually made with the leftover Greek lentil soup of the precious day, following the same philosophy as fasoulorizo, the traditional Greek white bean risotto. In Cyprus there’s a similar dish with rice and lentils called Mujendra and in Lebanon there’s Mujadara.
Mujadara uses a lot of caramelized onions for texture and flavor, but that can be time consuming since you’ll need some time to properly cook the onions until they rich a deep brown color. In an effort to make this recipe more quick and easy, I’ve skipped the caramelization of the onions and instead I cooked them until soft, translucent, and light brown. Also, in the same spirit as this moroccan rice/pilaf, I added some spices, raisins, and pistachios. The raisins and the spices pair really well with the rest elements of this dish making it suitable not only for an everyday dinner but also for a more festive occasion.
Usually, most of the recipes call for one part rice and one part lentils. If you want to serve Mujadara for dinner then this ratio is ideal. However, when I want to serve it as a side, I prefer to use 2 parts rice to 1 part lentils. You can experiment and decide your favorite ratio.
The cooking times
The thing is, you never know exactly when the lentils will be ready. Depending on their age, size, type, even the hardness of the water in which they’re cooked, cooking times can vary.
That’s why here the rice and the lentils get cooked separately. This also stops the rice from getting to dark colored, something that can happen when you cook it in the same pot with the lentils.
- Use roasted hazelnuts or almonds instead of pistachios
- A couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt (or a vegan yogurt) next to this pilaf are a great addition.
- Cooking the lentils and the rice separately ensures perfect cooking for both the main elements of the dish.
- The addition of spices, raisins, and nuts lends this recipe a festive character.
You may also like these similar recipes:
- 3/4 cups brown lentils
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (about 2 large onions)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup roasted pistachios
- Prepare the lentils: Rinse them well and transfer them to a small pot. Fill with enough water to cover them by 2-3 inches and cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes (taste to check for doneness. They should be cooked through but al dente). Drain well and set aside.
- Prepare the rice: Soak the rice in a bowl filed with cold water for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, transfer the oil, the onions, the bay leaves, and the cinnamon stick to a pot and cook over medium/high heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly until the onions are soft and light brown. Rinse and drain the rice very well and add it to the pot with the 2 1/2 cups water, the cumin, and the paprika. Let it come to a boil and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the lentils, the raisins, and the pistachios and stir gently with a fork. Cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let the pilaf rest for 20 minutes.
- Fluff it gently with a fork and serve. Eat!
Serve with strained Greek yogurt or a vegan yogurt
This recipe serves 4 as a main course and about 8 as a side
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