A popular Levantine dish during Armenian Lent season, Mujaddara or Mudardara as it is called in Lebanon, is rice and brown lentils cooked together pilaf style and tossed with caramelized onions.
Mujaddara (Mejadra), which by the way is a vegan and gluten-free dish, will not be complete without the addition of caramelized onions. Those golden brown candy-like morsels infuse their flavor into every grain.
Make sure you cook lentils until just tender.
Mujaddara, MEJADRA, mudardara, Mjaddra
MUJADDARA | RICE AND LENTILS WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS
6 extra-large assorted onions, sliced 1/8” thick
2/3 cups grapeseed oil
a dash of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups brown lentils, washed, drained
water, as needed
1 1/2 cups Uncle Ben’s rice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red Aleppo pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Sprinkle a dash of salt over onions and sauté in a large stainless steel or cast-iron skillet without oil until translucent and all liquid is gone; about 15 minutes. Add a little oil at a time and sauté on medium/medium-high heat for 20 minutes until onions start to brown – use all 2/3 cups of oil. Add sugar and keep sautéing for another 20 minutes at least, scraping the bottom occasionally, until onions caramelize to a dark golden brown. Turn off heat. Using a slotted spoon transfer caramelized onions onto a platter covered with paper towels – do not discard remaining oil in skillet.
Add lentils into a medium pan and cover generously with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook uncovered for 8 minutes until softened but not mushy. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
Add rice into same skillet used for onions and sauté over medium heat for 2-to-3 minutes. Mix in spices and salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Gently stir in pre-cooked lentils and bring to a boil once more. Cook covered on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook for 25-to-35 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Uncover and gently fluff grains using a large fork, cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for another 15 minutes. Slowly fold in 2/3 of the caramelized onions and transfer onto a large platter.
Garnish top with remaining caramelized onions. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature or cold.