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Easy dinner menu: Mujadarra and Laban

Mujadarra
Mujadarra with laban

Rice with beans are a staple meal for countries across the world. Across India and the Middle East, the legume of choice is lentils. Combining lentils with rice is great because together, they make a “complete protein”, meaning it provides all of the essential amino acids your body needs for cell growth and repair. In India, a traditional lentil and rice dish, Khichdi, is also touted for its balancing qualities – its suitable for all body types and constitutions.

Lentils and rice are super delicious on their own, but it’s always nice to throw in some different spices and flavors to the mix. And that’s where Mujadarra comes in.
Mujadarra is an Arab dish served all across the Middle East which combines lentils, rice, and caramelized onions. In countries like Lebanon, mujadarra is served with laban, a cucumber and yogurt sauce that ups the protein content, and balances the warm, soft flavors of the mujadarra with a slightly sour, cooling element. Mujadarra plus laban equals a delicious, healthy, and satisfying meal.

Luckily, this dish isn’t just good for you, it’s also relatively easy and quick to make! The menu below for a simple green salad, laban, and mujadarra takes less than an hour start to finish, is super delicious, and is very filling. Plus, the leftovers are just as delicious the next day. Maybe there’s a reason people have been eating this meal for 500 years…

Mujadarra and Laban
 
Mujadarra recipe adapted from Bon Appetit. Laban recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl. Some notes: For this meal, I included a very simple salad recipe - feel free to add any vegetables or other salad favorites. I'd also consider increasing the ratio of lentils to rice if you want a little more protein and a little less grain. I've made this recipe with brown lentils and small beluga lentils. I think any lentil will do, but if you like a more toothsome texture, choose black or beluga lentils. Brown or red lentils are more likely to get pretty mushy.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or water+bouillion)
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 bunch parsley leaves
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch baby greens or other lettuce
  • Sliced carrots, peppers, nuts/seeds, or your other favorite salad accoutrements
  • Lovely French vinegarette or your other favorite dressing
Instructions
  1. Set on high heat:
  2. cups vegetable stock (or water+bouillion)
  3. Rinse
  4. cup brown lentils
  5. cup rice
  6. Slice into thin strips
  7. large onion
  8. When vegetable stock is boiling: Add lentils and rice to the water, turn to medium high heat, and add
  9. bay leaf
  10. Heat large skillet on medium heat; Add
  11. tablespoons olive oil
  12. When oil is hot (shimmery, not smoking!), stir in
  13. teaspoons cumin seeds
  14. After 2 minutes, add onions to the skillet, stirring to coat.
  15. Continue checking and stirring the onions periodically, you want them to cook slowly over ~25 minutes.
  16. Also stir the lentils/rice periodically and ensure there is enough water to cover them. If they are getting too dry, but are not yet soft, add more water. They should cook in about ~35 minutes.
  17. Dice and set aside
  18. bunch parsley leaves
  19. Meanwhile, prep the Laban and Salad:
  20. Finely dice:
  21. cucumber
  22. Mix cucumber in a medium size bowl with
  23. cup plain yogurt
  24. teaspoon parsley
  25. Salt and pepper to taste
  26. Place laban in the refridgerator.
  27. Prepare a simple green salad: mix
  28. bunch baby greens or other lettuce
  29. Sliced carrots, peppers, nuts/seeds, or your other favorite salad accoutrements
  30. Lovely French vinegarette or your other favorite dressing (I recommend this recipe)
  31. Back to the mujadarra!
  32. Once the lentils/rice has softened, drain any excess water.
  33. When the onions are soft, sweet, and browned, mix half of the onions and half of the chopped parsley to the rice/lentils. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  34. Spoon rice/lentil mixture onto plates, top with more onions, parsley, and your laban. Serve with lemon wedges if you wish.

Ideas for leftovers:

  • Reheat and serve lentil/rice mixture over salad.
  • Serve mujadarra and laban under marinated chicken or lamb.
  • Reheat lentils/rice in a frying pan, adding some salsa. Crack an egg on top and cook through.
  • Saute carrots, leeks, or other vegetables, stirring in lentils/rice when fully cooked.

Enjoy!!

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