Mujaddara is one of my favorite things. I love to make it during the fasts because everyone in my family enjoys it, even the children, and it’s very easy, inexpensive, and one batch makes a whole lot! My godmother taught me how to make it a couple of years ago and I can never get it to turn out quite as delicious as hers, but it’s close. I am not sure how accurately I remembered what she taught me so maybe I am doing something different (I know she doesn’t use the pine nuts so there’s at least one variation), but whatever I’m doing, it’s working. Here is what I do.
2 cups rice
2 cardamom pods
1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils
4 sweet onions
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
toasted pine nuts (optional)
Put a large skillet on the stove and heat it up over medium heat. While heating, slice the onions, then add some oil to the pan and then the onions. Stir occasionally as they cook until they are soft (15-20 minutes?), and then turn the heat up to medium-high and stir frequently until they are caramelized to a nice deep brown. This should take about 20 or 30 minutes, I think. When they are done, add a splash of water to deglaze the pan.
While the onions are cooking, cook the rice and lentils. You can cook them according to package directions, but my preferred way for the rice is to cook it in the oven. Here is how I do it. Preheat oven to 350. Place the 2 cups of rice into an oven proof dish, about 2 quarts in size, and on the stovetop boil 2 3/4 cups of water along with a pinch of salt and a little oil. When it boils, pour it into the dish with the rice and cover the dish tightly with a double layer of foil. Bake in the oven until the water is absorbed and rice is tender; this should be 45 to 60 minutes. Remove and fluff with fork. For this recipe, put the 2 cardamom pods in with the rice as it bakes.
The lentils can simply be boiled on the stovetop until they are tender but not too mushy.
When all these things are cooked, mix the rice, drained lentils, and half the caramelized onion in a pot, along with about half a cup of water and a little olive oil, plus the spices, salt, and pepper, and stir and heat on the stove over medium heat until it’s all combined and smelling delicious.
Then place it all into a serving dish and top with the remaining caramelized onions and the pine nuts, if you’re using them. This is delicious served with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes drizzled in olive oil–or if it’s not a fast day, I like to have it with Greek yogurt.