A couple of weeks ago celebrating Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish new year, at my close friend’s house, I was reminded of the fabulous Jerusalem cook book. My friend made the Madjela, an Arabic lentil and rice dish with exotic spices and fried onions. It was so delicious that my 16 year old daughter, Kalli asked me make it. Since I’m always looking for plant based meals she will eat, this created the perfect opportunity for me to create one we would all love.
I cracked out my cook book and had to head to the store for a few of the exotic spices, but it was so worth it! I never fry, but I did make the crispy onions in this recipe as it adds so much YUM to the finished product. I also opted to make the cucumber yogurt sauce to serve it with. Add an Israeli chopped salad and your meal is complete.
I have been to Jerusalem 3 times. The country of Israel is fascinating, innovative and diverse in terrain and cultures. The food markets are unbelievable, overflowing with spices and fresh breads, grains and baked goods.
I hope you take a look at this coffee table cookbook. There are meat recipes as well. Enjoy!
Lentils with Basmati Rice
Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain and set aside.
Peel the onions and slice thinly. Place on a large flat plate, sprinkle with the flour and 1 teaspoon salt, and mix well with your hands.
Heat the sunflower oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan placed over 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 one-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 color and turns crispy (adjust the temperature so the onion doesn't fry too quickly and burn).
Use the spoon top transfer the onion to a colander lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt.
Do the same with the other two batches of onion; add a little extra oil if needed.
Wipe the saucepan in which you fried the onion clean and put in the cumin and coriander seeds. Place over medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two.
Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and plenty of black pepper.
Stir to coat the rice with the oil and then add the cooked lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, lift off the lid, and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for ten minutes.
Finally, add half the fried onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently with a fork. Pile the mixture in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.