Arabic dish features easy-to-fix lentils

DINNER TONIGHT

July 26, 2006|By ROBIN MATHER JENKINS | ROBIN MATHER JENKINS,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Beans of any type suit me fine. Lentils may top my list of favorite pulses, though, because they don't need to soak before cooking and they cook so fast.

It's easy to make a main dish with lentils and have dinner from scratch on the table in less than an hour.

This dish draws on the Arabic traditional dish called mujadrah (moo-JAH-dra), especially beloved in Lebanon and Egypt.

For centuries, it has nourished the poor because it provides plenty of complete protein, without meat. Mujadrah also has pleased the rich, because it just tastes so good.

Robin Mather Jenkins writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe and analysis.

Menu suggestion

Mujadrah

Braised greens

Fresh blueberries with yogurt

Mujadrah

Serves 2 -- Total time: about 41 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil (divided use)

1 large onion, halved lengthwise, one half chopped, one half sliced into 1/8 -inch slices

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon each: allspice, cinnamon

1/2 cup lentils

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) low-sodium vegetable broth

1/2 cup instant brown or white rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup plain yogurt

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic; cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add cumin, allspice and cinnamon; cook 1 minute. Add the lentils and vegetable broth. Heat to a boil; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until lentils begin to soften, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion slices. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark and crispy, about 10 minutes. Set aside in pan.

Stir rice into lentils; cover. Cook over medium-low heat until rice and lentils are tender, about 12 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with the onions, a dollop of yogurt and a generous scattering of mint.

Per serving: 457 calories, 16 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 63 grams carbohydrate, 18 grams protein, 658 milligrams sodium, 14 grams fiber

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