My blogging energy hits a new low during warmer days but today, was an unusual miserable Auckland spring day, which was just perfect for shopping and cooking (and taking a photo or two). If you have noticed the two very bruised pomegranate seeds in my pomegranate photo last year, today is your lucky day! I took another photo of a pomegranate and here it is ... with much better colour and clarity than last year.
In trying to come up with ideas for today's blog post that don't require me driving across town to buy special ingredients, I came up with this dish. For Iranians, this is a perfect peasant food. It's the kinda dish you'll never cook for your guests - it's a perfect mid-week vegetarian dish that doesn't require much effort when you are too busy and you don't have time for food shopping. Lentil rice is cooked with either raisins, dates or beef mince (or a combination of all) or just plain and served with fried eggs. Persians don't spice it up either; only some regions add cinnamon to it.
Various versions of this dish is cooked all over Middle East and is called: majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra ... but really they all refer to the same lentil rice cooked with slightly different combinations of spices and lentils. I added currants to mine as I prefer tiny currants to sultanas or raisins in any recipe. I must admit spices add a very subtle warmth to this dish, which is a nice change to what I'm used to. Fried onion flakes are full of flavour and adds the much needed texture to lentils and rice. Serve this rice dish with yoghurt and plenty of crunchy fried onions.
250g Green Lentils (soaked in water for 2 hours)
200g Basmati Rice
4 Medium Onions
2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons dried currants (optional)
350ml water (to cover the rice by 2cm)
1.5 teaspoons salt
Oil for frying
- Place the lentils in a small saucepan with enough water to cover the lentils.
- Bring to a boil, cool for approximately 10 mins or until the lentils are soft (but not mushy i.e. with a bite).
- Drain and set aside.
- Peel and slice the onions finely.
- Heat some cooking oil in a pot (approximately half a cup).
- Fry onion slices in batches until golden.
- Remove golden crunchy slices with a spoon and set aside.
- Leave about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot and reduce heat to medium.
- Add the ground spices and cook on medium heat for two minutes.
- Add the drained lentils and the currants, mix well and fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rice, water and salt, mix and allow to boil.
- Reduce heat to very low.
- Cover the lid with a tea towel completely. Place the lid on, making sure its sealed tightly.
- Allow the rice to steam for 10-15 minutes - until the rice is cooked fluffy.