Maybe it was the passing of another year, or
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This past weekend, when my husband asked what would make me happiest, the things that came to mind were some of life’s quiet, simple pleasures. An afternoon date at the library to read magazines, we saw a movie and spent some time cooking.
(ps: If you haven’t had a chance to see Still Alice. My goodness, it’s good, and I can’t stop thinking about it!)
I can’t think of anything more therapeutic than the taste of a well-chilled glass of Chandon, some jazz playing in the living room, and puppies at our feet while we cook dinner together. A night with no plans, no guests, no rush. Just the two of us and the time to enjoy not just a great meal, but the act of cooking
A bowl of comfort food seemed perfect for a chilly night in March. The recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jerusalem. No fancy ingredients to source, pantry staples really. Everything we had on hand
Mejadra is a classic dish that’s been around for centuries. One traditionally made from brown or green lentils and rice, seasoned with cumin, coriander, or mint. It’s then garnished with sautéed onions and served hot or cold, usually with yogurt.
Here, the rice and lentils are steamed along with spices, pilaf style. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about stirring fried bits of onions into a hot pot of lentils and rice. Not to fear. The loss in crunch was more than made up for in their incredible depth of caramelized, salty flavor.
A few thoughts
Frying the onions took quite a bit longer than anticipated, and proved rather tricky until I got the hang of it. It took me a while to figure out the fine line between a temp that would turn my onions a pretty golden color, and one for which they’d fry too quickly and burn.
Once assembled, this dish was far greater than the sum of its parts.
Isn’t it always the simple things in life, that make us the happiest, and seem to get us going again?
~ Adapted from Jerusalem | by Yotam Ottolenghi
- 1 ¼ cups green or brown lentils
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- 3 Tbsp oat flour (or any kind of flour will work)
- 1 cup sunflower oil (or another neutral oil)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 ½ Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 cup dry Basmati rice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp ground allspice
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 1 ½ cups water
- pinch each finely-ground sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 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 tsp 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 to 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 to 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, ½ tsp salt, and plenty of black pepper.
- Stir to coat the rice with the oil and then add the cooked lentils and the 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 10 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