There’s one recipe that we make without fail during Lent: Majadra. It’s a most delicious, wholesome Middle Eastern peasant lentil dish with rice, caramelized onions, and laban/yogurt.
My mom’s hand-written recipe is titled “Majadra”. You may know it as Mujadarra, Moujadara, or Mujadara.
The main ingredients are lentils, onions, rice and yogurt.
Lentils have been grown for thousands of years, even mentioned in the Bible as a life-sustaining bean. I marvel at the still budget friendly cost of a bag of lentils.
Here’s my updated/detailed version of my favorite Lenten meal.
Majadra/brown lentils with rice, caramelized onions, and laban/yogurt
Some recipes use green lentils. They cook up too firm for my taste, but if all you have are green lentils, go ahead and use them. They will take longer to cook.
1 generous cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any debris, etc.
3 large yellow onions, sliced thin
Either 1/3 cup long grain rice or 1 cup long grain rice (see instructions for explanation)
5 cups water
2 teaspoons cumin or more to taste
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Slice onions thin. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil in large skillet and bring heat to medium.
Pile onions in. As they cook they will lose bulk and cook down. Give them a stir every once in a while. Cook until onions are caramelized and blotchy brown. If the onions are getting brown before they soften completely, turn the heat down. It takes about 20-30 minutes or so. That process takes some of the bite out of the onion and gives it some sweetness.
As onions are cooking, pour water in a large saucepan. Add lentils and seasonings.
Cover and bring to a gentle boil until they cook halfway, about 10 minutes or so.
Now if you just want a bit of rice with the lentils, go ahead and add the 1/3 cup at this time. By the time the lentils finish cooking, the rice should be done as well. You may have to drain it if there’s excess water, but that usually doesn’t happen. Remove bay.
If you want more rice and want to put it on the side, then cook 1 cup separately.
Bring 2 cups water to a boil, season with salt and pepper, and add rice. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook until done, 20 minutes.
Stir in a drizzle of olive oil. This can be served alongside the lentils.
Serving the Majadra
Either stir the onions into the lentils and rice like my Mom did, or place lentils in a bowl, spoon some rice around the lentils, then top with onions.
Dollop on some laban/yogurt.
Gilding the lily
Instead of laban/yogurt top with a dollop of Kay Hitzler’s tzatziki. That recipe is on my site.
Adding a bowl of hummus alongside is nice, too.
Lentils keep a good year after their “buy by” date.