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Rice, lentils and crisp onion

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I first made mejadra from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi which I found online. It was adapted from the recipe in his book Jerusalem, written with Sami Tamimi, which I now have and from which I have cooked extensively.
I have prepared a mejadra-like dish many times since then, but have done it in a way that I consider much simpler. The original recipe lists uncooked rice as an ingredient and everything is cooked together like  a paella. I start with already cooked rice, leftover from the day or two before (always have some lying around), so this is like a salad in a way.
I also use the oil used to fry the onions as part of the "dressing"; the original recipe uses fresh oil to cook the spices and rice. But this is such a delicious ingredient, and it's a shame not to use it.
I've used white, brown and even black rice for my dish. I started eating red rice recently (ooh, try saying "red rice recently" quickly three times!) and have used it this time.
As for the lentils, I have used puy lentils and green lentils, which I suspect are the same thing. Although some recipes say to soak them overnight first, I have cooked them immediately after rinsing and they are tender in about 15 minutes.
I suppose this rice would be a side dish to meats and seafood, but I love it on its own as a one-dish meal and so I have added some rocket to it to get in some fresh and raw.
Salad or side dish... either one is fine by me

Rice & Lentils with Crisp Onion
Serves 2

3 tbsp green lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp rice flour (or cornstarch)
Vegetable oil
¼ tsp fennel seeds
Large pinch each of ground cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and allspice
1¼ cup cooked rice (coloured rice is nuttier and chewier)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad leaves, optional

Place lentils and a pinch of salt in a small pot and cover with water. Cook until tender. Drain the lentils but retain a little of the cooking liquid.
Toss sliced onion with both flours. Heat 2 to 3 tbsp of oil in a frying pan. Shake off excess flour and fry the onion until crisp. Remove onion from pan and transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle some salt over it.
Leave about 2 tsp of oil in the frying pan and over low heat stir-fry the fennel seeds and ground spices until fragrant. Add the cooked rice and toss about to coat with the oil and spices. Add the cooked lentils. Add some of the lentil liquid if the mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan. Give it a few tosses and take off the heat. Add salt and plenty of black pepper and toss with the fried onion. Serve as a side dish or with salad leaves as a one-dish meal.


  1. Hi, your dish look delish. I was just viewing his recipes too!

  2. Oh Jane, what a delicious treat! The images are so inviting!

  3. A great looking and healthy dish, something I should eat more often!


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