Mejadra

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This recipe is taken from my cook book 'Jerusalem'.  Mejadra is an ancient dish, popular throughout the Arab world. I served this with a cucumber yoghurt dressing.

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Ingredients:

250g green or brown lentils (I used brown and soaked them for a whole day first) 4 medium onions (700g before peeling) 3 tbsp plain flour 250ml sunflower oil (I would not recommend using this much, it made the onions very greasy) 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds 200g basmati rice 2 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 350 ml water Salt and black pepper

Method:

Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite, then drain.

Peel and slice the onions thinly, place on a large flat plate, sprinkle with the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix well with your hands.  Heat up 250ml of sunflower oil in a medium heavy-based saucepan placed on a high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously.  Reduce the heat to medium high and carefully (it may spit!) add a third of the sliced onion.  Fry for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion takes on a nice golden-brown colour and turns crispy (adjust the temperature so that the onion doesn't fry too quickly and burn).  Use your spoon to transfer into a colander lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little more salt.  Do the same with the other two batches of onion.

Wipe clean the saucepan in which you fried the onion and put in the cumin and coriander seeds.  Place on a medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two.  Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, all spice, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper.  Stir to coat the rice with oil and then add the cooked lentils and the water.  Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, lift lid off and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel.  Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes.

Finally, add half the fried onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently with a fork.  Pile in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.

* this was enough for 4 people so I froze the leftovers.

Julia x