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Previously I tried my hands in the kitchen at an authentic Arabic recipe called Mujaddara (more specifically Jordan).  I read about his dish quite a few times and each time it does seem to vary according to the chef. Each recipe makes my mouth just salivate with each ingredient – I can’t even comprehend how much of it I would eat if I walked the streets of the middle east that serves this alongside the road. Street food is the most amazing and authentic food that a person can find in each country. The streets must smell like onion, garlic, and everything else that would make my stomach growl with hunger. Mmmm It must be a very homey feeling, kind of like going to ones grandmothers’ house.

When I came across this recipe, I just had to try it. The fried onions on top were appealing but not to the rules of my kitchen. So in all “genki-style”, I chose to not deep fry the onions but lightly fry them with a little vegetable oil. The onions came out crispy but probably would have had more flavor if deep-fried, but the flavor comes with guilt and unnecessary fat that could clog the arteries. So, better safe than sorry in my opinion. Feel free to make the recipe according to the original or in a lighter version such as I did. Either way, enjoy this alongside a nice green vegetable or even as a side to a large salad would be nice. It is very filling and could just be served alone.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 c green or brown lentils
2 tsp cumin seeds
1½ tbsp coriander seeds
¾ c basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper
1 ½ c water

Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-size heavy-based saucepan. When very hot, carefully add a third of the sliced onion. Fry for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion takes on a nice, golden-brown colour and turns crispy. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with two more batches of onion.

Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain into a colander.

Wipe clean the saucepan in which you fried the onion and drop in the cumin and coriander seeds. Place over a medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two, until they release those distinctive aromas. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with oil, then add the cooked lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes. Finally, tip the rice and lentils into a large mixing bowl. Add half the fried onion and stir gently with a fork. Pile up in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.