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Mujadara is a delicious, simple and inexpensive favorite, the most common side dish accompanying meat entrees in the region.  It is served up in most “al ha-esh” (on the grill) restaurants automatically with your skewered meat or kebabs. I’ve heard of many families that serve it as a low-cost meatless meal and is often noted as a childhood comfort food like mac and cheese is in the US.

mujadara on hand-painted Armenian platter

Everyone seems to have their own way of making it even though its three basic components are rice, lentils and onion. Of course, I like my own version the best which is more like a fried rice in style.

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils

1 cup basmati rice

1 yellow onion

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. sugar and salt

Soak the lentils for a number of hours or overnight and later cook seperately, simmering until soft. Set aside. I cook the rice according to directions and also set aside sometime before I’m ready to serve the meal.  Cut the onion into strips and carmelize the yellow onion by frying in a non-stick fry pan with 1/2 tsp. sugar and salt until onion browns even to crispy edges.

In a large frying pan or dutch oven cover bottom with olive oil and add cumin and allspice to bring out flavor but not burn spices. Add all 3 main ingredients together, rice, cooked lentils and onion and stir fry like fried rice. Voila, done! Serves as a side for a large group of eight or more.

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